from The Argonautica

06-13 Apollonius
Apollonius of Rhodes
Greek
c. 300 B.C.

 

First in my song shalt thou be, O Phœbus, the song that I sing
Of the heroes of old, who sped, at the hest of Pelias the king,
When down through the gorge of the Pontus-sea, through the Crags Dark-blue,
On the Quest of the Fleece of Gold the strong-ribbed Argo flew.
For an oracle came unto Pelias, how that in days to be
A terrible doom should be dealt him of him whom his eyes should see
From the field coming in, with the one foot only sandal-shod.
Nor long thereafter did Jason fulfil the word of the God:
For in wading the rush of Amaurus swollen with winter-tide rain
One sandal plucked he forth of the mire, but the one was he fain
To leave in the depths, for the swirl of the waters to sweep to the main.
Straightway to the presence of Pelias he came, and his hap was to light
On a banquet, the which unto Father Poseidon the king had dight,
And the rest of the Gods, but Pelasgian Hêrê he heeded not.
And the king beheld him, and straightway laid for his life the plot,
And devised for him toil of a troublous voyage, that lost in the sea,
Or lost amid alien men his home-return might be.
Of the ship and her fashioning, bards of the olden time have told
How Argus wrought, how Athênê made him cunning-souled.
But now be it mine the lineage and names of her heroes to say,
And to tell of the long sea-paths whereover they needs must stray,
And the deeds that they wrought:—may the Muses vouchsafe to inspire the lay.

 

Translation by Arthur S. Way

fragment

05-20 Alcman
Alcman of Sparta
Greek
c. 700 B.C.

 

Verily there is a vengeance from on high, and happy he that weaveth merrily one day’s weft without a tear. And so, as for me, I sing now of the light that is Agido’s. Bright I see it as the very sun’s which the same Agido now invoketh to shine upon us. And yet neither praise nor blame can I give at all to such as she without offence to our splendid leader, who herself appeareth as pre-eminent as would a well-knit steed of ringing hoof that overcometh in the race, if he were set to graze among the unsubstantial cattle of our dreams that fly.

 

Translation by J.M. Edmonds

Rosewater

We present this work in honor of the 30th anniversary of the poet’s death.

05-12 Gatsos
Nikos Gatsos
Greek
1911 – 1992

 

When you reach that other world, don’t become a cloud,
don’t become a cloud, and the bitter star of dawn,
so that your mother knows you, waiting at her door.
Take a wand of willow, a root of rosemary,
a root of rosemary, and be a moonlit coolness
falling in the midnight in your thirsting courtyard.
I gave you rosewater to drink, you gave me poison,
eaglet of the frost, hawk of the desert.

 

Translation by Jon Corelis

The Hyperboreans from Pythian X

04-13 Pindar
Pindar
Greek
c. 518 B.C. – c. 438 B.C.

Among them too are the Muses
For everywhere
To flute and string the young girls
Are dancing,
In their hair the gold leaves of the bay:
The dance whirls them away:
Age or disease, no toil,
Battle or ill-day’s luck
Can touch them, they
Are holy, they
Will outlast time, exempted
From the anger of the Goddess
And all decay.

Here the hero came
With the head
That shocked a royal house, turning
King and all into stone:
It was long long ago, if
Time means anything;
Long, long ago.

Atonement

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 115th birthday.

04-07 Melissanthi
Melissanthi
Greek
1907 – 1991

 

Each time I sinned a door half-opened
and the angels who hadn’t thought me beautiful in my chastity
tipped the vessels of their flowering souls.
Each time I sinned a door seemed to open
and tears of compassion dripped in the grass.
But if the sword of my remorse pushed me from the skies
each time I sinned a door half-opened.:
the people thought me ugly;
only the angels thought me beautiful.

 

Translation by Karen Emmerich

Today

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 120th birthday.

04-01 Polydouri
Maria Polydouri
Greek
1902 – 1930

 

Today just before the light filled up the sky,
far off I heard bells sounding in the city.
Bells… why did I notice? As if sowing hate
the last shadows slowly and dolefully moved on.
Where have I left my sweet, childlike soul,
in what season, with what bell’s tune entwined?
In what season… and today to say my prayers
I stayed on bended knee in sorrow.
A prayer to beauty, to a forgotten mother,
to ignorance, to a smile, to the voice of a dream,
listening to the day’s bell of anguish
which sadly tolled an untimely death.

 

Translation by Georgia Theophillis Noble

To Samos

We present this work in honor of Greek Independence Day.

03-25 Kalvos
Andreas Kalvos
Greek
1792 – 1869

 

Let those who feel
the heavy brazen hand of fear
bear slavery:
freedom needs virtue,
needs daring.

This (for myth may veil
the spirit of truth) lent wings
to Icarus – and though he fell,
the wingèd one and drowned
beneath the waves,

he fell from on high
and died free. Should you
die like a sheep, dishonoured,
at the hands of a tyrant,
your grave will be an abomination.

 

Translation by James Munro

Proem to the Martyrdom of Cyprian

02-18 Eudocia
Aelia Eudocia
Greek
c. 401

 

When God in heaven brought light to earth
and the true voice of wondrous men was accomplished,
a life-producing radiance filled the whole world
through the words of (other) prophets, the evangelists.
For all robust men embraced one God,
the Heavenly Father, Lord of all, and his Son,
and in the name of the Holy Spirit were washed with water
from the many sins staining their bodies.

 

Translation by Brian P. Sowers