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

from The Birds

12-10 Aristophanes
Aristophanes
Greek
c. 446 B.C. – c. 386 B.C.

 

Ye Children of Man! whose life is a span,
Protracted with sorrow from day to day,
Naked and featherless, feeble and querulous,
Sickly calamitous creatures of clay!
Attend to the words of the Sovereign Birds,
(Immortal, illustrious, lords of the air),
Who survey from on high, with a merciful eye,
Your struggles of misery, labor, and care.
Whence you may learn and clearly discern
Such truths as attract your inquisitive turn;
Which is busied of late with a mighty debate,
A profound speculation about the creation,
And organical life, and chaotical strife,
With various notions of heavenly motions,
And rivers and oceans, and valleys and mountains,
And sources of fountains, and meteors on high,
And stars in the sky… We propose by and by,
(If you’ll listen and hear,) to make it all clear.
And Prodicus henceforth shall pass for a dunce,
When his doubts are explained and expounded at once.

Our antiquity proved, it remains to be shown
That Love is our author and master alone;
Like him we can ramble, and gambol and fly
O’er ocean and earth, and aloft to the sky;
And all the world over, we’re friends to the lover,
And when other means fail, we are found to prevail,
When a Peacock or Pheasant is sent as a present.
All lessons of primary daily concern
You have learnt from the Birds, and continue to learn,
Your best benefactors and early instructors;
We give you the warning of seasons returning.
When the Cranes are arranged, and muster afloat
In the middle air, with a creaking note,
Steering away to the Libyan sands,
Then careful farmers sow their lands;
The crazy vessel is hauled ashore,
The sail, the ropes, the rudder and oar
Are all unshipped and housed in store.
The shepherd is warned, by the Kite reappearing,
To muster his flock, and be ready for shearing.
You quit your old cloak at the Swallow’s behest,
In assurance of summer, and purchase a vest.
For Delphi, for Ammon, Dodona, in fine
For every oracular temple and shrine,
The Birds are a substitute equal and fair,
For on us you depend, and to us you repair
For counsel and aid when a marriage is made,
A purchase, a bargain, a venture in trade:
Unlucky or lucky, whatever has struck ye,
An ox or an ass that may happen to pass,
A voice in the street, or a slave that you meet,
A name or a word by chance overheard,
If you deem it an omen, you call it a Bird;
And if birds are your omens, it clearly will follow
That birds are a proper prophetic Apollo.

 

Translation by John Hookham Frere