Poems by Odesseus Elytis

Translation from Greek: Marios Dikaiakos

I know that all this is worthless and that the language
I speak doesn't have an alphabet

Since the sun and the waves are a syllabic script
which can be deciphered only in the years of sorrow and exile

And the motherland a fresco with successive overlays
frankish or slavic which, should you try to restore,
you are immediately sent to prison and
held responsible

To a crowd of foreign Powers always through
the intervention of your own

As it happens for the disasters

But let's imagine that in an old days' threshing-floor
which might be in an apartment-complex children
are playing and whoever loses

Should, according to the rules, tell the others
and give them a truth

Then everyone ends up holding in his
hand a small

Gift, silver poem.

Drinking Corinthian Sun 
Translated by Jeffrey Carson and Nikos Sarris 

Drinking Corinthian sun
Reading the old marbles
Striding through vineyard seas
Aiming the harpoon
At a votive fish that slips away
I found the leaves the sun's psalm learns by heart
The living shore desire rejoices
To open 

I drink water I cut fruit
I thrust my hand in the wind's foliage
Lemon trees irrigate the summer pollen
Green birds tear my dreams
I leave with a glance
A wide glance where the world again becomes
Beautiful from the beginning by the measures
of the heart.

From "Body of Summer," 1943.

O body of summer, naked, burnt
Eaten away by oil and salt
Body of rock and shudder of the heart
Great ruffling wind in the osier hair
Breath of basil above the curly pubic mound
Full of stars and pine needles
Body, deep vessel of the day!

From "Maria Nephele," 1979.

If you are of the Atreides go
elsewhere to shout aloud.
Such fire doesn't kindle the sun
here where conscience rose and
took on a maiden's real body.

"Calendar of an Invisible April"
Translation from Greek: Marios Dikaiakos

"The wind was wistling continuously, it was 
getting darker, and that distant voice was 
incessantly reaching my ears : "an entire life"...
"an entire life"...
On the opposite wall, the shadows of the 
trees were playing cinema"


"It seems that somewhere people are celebrating;
although there are no houses or human beings
I can listen to guitars and other laughters which
are not nearby

Maybe far away, within the ashes of heavens
Andromeda, the Bear, or the Virgin...

I wonder; is loneliness the same, all over the
worlds ? "


"Almond-shaped, elongated eyes, lips; perfumes stemming
from a premature sky of great feminine delicacy
and fatal drunkeness.

I leant on my side -almost fell- onto the
hymns to the Virgin and the cold of spacious

Prepared for the worst."

"FRIDAY, 10c

LATE MIDNIGHT my room is moving in the
neighborhood shining like an emerald.
Someone searches it, but truth eludes him
constantly. How to imagine that it is
placed lower

Much lower

That death too, has its own Red sea."

Translated by Daphne on May 17th, 1995

By the first drop of rain the summer died 
The words that had bore those stary nights got wet
All those words that had one sole destination You!
Where will our hands reach now that weather no longer cares for us
Where will our eyes rest now that the distant lines got dispersed in the clouds
Now that your eyes have shut above the landscapes that were ours
And now that we found ourselves - as if the mist went right through us- 
totally lonely surrounded by your inanimate images

With the forehead against the window we wait upon the new torment
It 's not Death that will make us fall since You are alive
Since a wind exists somewhere and he will live you entirely
To dress you from the near like our hope will from afar
Since there is elsewhere
A greenest meadow far from your laughter up to the sun
Telling him secretely that we will one day meet again
No, it is not death we shall confront
But just a tiny drop of the autumn rain
A blurry feeling
The scent of the moist soil within our souls
that are continuously diverging.

And if your hand is not between our hands
And if our blood wont' run within your dream's veins
The music unseen within us and O sorrowful
Wanderer of whatever still keeps us alive
It is the humid air the come of autumn the depart 
The elbow's bitter support upon the memory
that comes out when night arrives to divorce us from the light
Behind the square window that looks upon the sadness
That sees nothing
Because it has become music unseen fire a strike of the big clock on the wall
Because it has become
A poem a verse upon a verse, a sound resembling tears and words
Words not like the rest of them but with the same destination: You!