Memory

Moero
Greek
c. 300 B.C.

 

Now mighty Zeus was raised in Crete, and not one
of the blessed gods knew about him. In every limb he grew strong,
while doves looked after him in a holy cave
bringing ambrosia from Ocean’s streams,
a mighty eagle, ever drawing nectar from a rock,
in its beak carried a drink for wise Zeus.
After defeating his father Cronus, wide-seeing Zeus
made the eagle immortal and settled it in heaven.
Just so did he bestow honour on the trembling doves
who are the messengers of summer and winter.

Denial

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

Giorgos Seferis
Greek
1900 – 1971

 

On the secret seashore
white like a pigeon
we thirsted at noon;
but the water was brackish.

On the golden sand
we wrote her name;
but the sea-breeze blew
and the writing vanished.

With what spirit, what heart,
what desire and passion
we lived our life: a mistake!
So we changed our life.

The Odyssey — a Modern Sequel, Extract 1

In honor of Greek Independence Day, we present this work by a giant of Greek literature.

Nikos Kazantzakis
Greek
1883 – 1957

 

Then flesh dissolved, glances congealed, the heart’s pulse stopped,
and the great mind leapt to the peak of its holy freedom,
fluttered with empty wings, then upright through the air
soared high and freed itself from its last cage, its freedom.
All things like frail mist scattered till but one brave cry
for a brief moment hung in the calm benighted waters:
“Forward, my lads, sail on, for Death’s breeze blows in a fair wind!”

Tram and Acropolis

Nikos Engonopoulos
Greek
1907 – 1985

 

le soleil me brule et me rend lumineux

through the monotonous rain
the mud
the ashen atmosphere
the trams pass
and through the deserted marketplace
• deadened by the rain –
they proceed towards
the
terminals

my thought
filled with emotion
follows them lovingly until
they reach
there where the fields begin
where the fields are drowned by the rain
at the terminals

what sorrow it would have been – my God –
what sorrow
if my heart was not consoled
by the hope of marble
and the prospect of a bright sunray
which shall give new life
to the splendid ruins

exactly like
a red flower
amid green leaves

Hymn to Roma

Melinno
Greek
c. 150 B.C.

 

Hail to Roma, the war-god’s daughter
Warrior queen in a golden girdle,
Your Heaven here on earth, eternal
And unassailable.

On you alone, our ancient of days,
Fate has bestowed this royal glory
Of unbroken rule, sovereign strength
To lead where all follow.

For under your yoke, by your strong reins,
The great back of earth and foam-white seas
Are bent; without a falter your steer
The cities of all men.

But time’s great span can topple us all;
Life sways us one way, then another
You alone sail on fair winds of rule
And never alter course.

For you alone have borne strong warriors,
Great spearman, springing up unbidden
Like Demeter’s fruitful ears of corn,
A crop of mortal men.