Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae.
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion;
generous when they are rich, and when they are poor,
still generous in small ways,
still helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hating those who lie.
And even more honor is due to them
when they foresee (as many do foresee)
that in the end Ephialtis will make his appearance,
that the Medes will break through after all.
Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933)
"DRINKING THE SUN OF CORINTH..."
Drinking the sun of Corinth
Reading the marble ruins
Striding across vineyards and seas
Sighting along the harpoon
A votive fish that slips away
I found the leaves that the sun's psalm memorizes
The living land that passion joys in opening.
I drink water, cut fruit,
Thrust my hand into the wind's foliage
The lemon trees water the summer pollen
The green birds tear my dreams
I leave with a glance
A wide glance in which the world is recreated
Beautiful from the beginning to the dimensions
of the heart!
Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996)
Remember me telling you: when the boats whistle don't be
in the port.
But the day that was leaving was ours and we didn't want
to ever let it go
A bitter handkerchief will greet the tedium of return.
It really was raining a lot and the streets were deserted
With a delicate, vaguely autumnal flavor
Closed windows and people so forgotten
Why did they all leave us? Why did they all leave us?
I was clasping your hands
And there was nothing strange in my cry.
. . . One day we'll leave noiselessly and we'll roam
Through roaring towns and over desolate seas
With but one desire burning on our lips
It is love that we sought and they denied it to us
You forgot about our tears, our joys and our memories
Greeting while sails rippling in the wind
And maybe there's nothing else left for us to remember.
The anguished Why heaves up in my soul
I suck in the air of loneliness and desertion
I knock on the walls of my damp prison and I don't expect
No one will ever touch the extent of my affection and
And you're waiting for a letter which doesn't come
A far-off voice revolves in your memory and fades away
While a mirror gloomily measures your face
Our lost ignorance, our lost wings.
Manolis Anagnostakis (1925- )
This sun was mine and yours; we shared it.
Who's suffering behind the golden silk, who's dying?
A woman beating her dry breasts cried out; `Cowards,
they've taken my children and torn them to shreds, you've
killed them gazing at the fire-flies at dusk with a
strange look,lost in blind thought.'
The blood was drying on a hand that a tree made green,
a warrior was asleep clutching the lance that cast light
against his side.
It was ours, this sun, we saw nothing behind the gold
embroidery then the messengers came, dirty and breathless,
stuttering unintelligible words
twenty days and nights on the barren earth with thorns only
twenty days and nights feeling the bellies of the horses
bleering and not a moment's break to drink rain-water.
You told them to rest first and then to speak, the light had
They died saying `We don't have time', touching some rays
of the sun.
You'd forgotten that no one rests.
A woman howled 'Cowards' like a dog in the night.
Once she would have been beautiful like you with the wet
mouth, veins alive beneath the skin,with love.
This sun is ours; you kept all of it, you wouldn't
And it was then I found about those things behind the
gold and the silk:
we don't have time. The messengers were right.
George Seferis (1900-1971)
The Orange Trees of Sparta
The orange trees of Sparta, snow, flowers of love
sprang into whiteness at your words,
bending down their branches,
I hugged them to my small breast and went to my mother.
She was sitting under the moon worrying about me,
she was sitting under the moon and scolded me:
Yesterday I washed you, yesterday I changed you,
where did you run off to-
who filled you clothes with tears and
bitter orange blossoms.
Nikephoros Vrettakos (1912-1991)