Yannis Ritsos – Poems, Selected Books, Volume II, Second Edition

Posted: 26/01/2023 by vequinox in Literature


Two eucalyptus trees in the sky. The edge of a roof,

             red tiles

a wooden staircase and the cloths on the cloths line. The sky

             painted light-blue

and the old silence with its sack, thousands of cigarette butts

             in my memory,

bitter taste. You have no appetite, you wait for the moon

to rise, slowly, silently like the cat’s walk on the ledge

             of the afternoon.

The curtain, smoked from the tiredness of the day,

is pulled aside upon the horizon, not too far from

the inn with the four horses — the dusk

             fades on their backs,

not far from the last shack in the distance of the autumn


The voices of children fade away behind the fence walls

and the walking stick of time, tick-tack is heard

down there by the seashore.

A stopped truck turned on its lights,

then the window

then another one.

The angels look at the evening with both hands

            under their chins. 

Ah, how far away we empty our tired hopeful


those oil paintings onto the evening clouds with

            the slanting lights

almost no shape, only a puffy dawn that falls off

            the dream;

a table with two wine glasses at the seashore tavern,

a lone chair with its lonely shadow,

your shadow with nothing else in the damp seashore

and the dog of the ship among the stars.

Simply, deep in your heart, you don’t remember

the soft steps in the street, the open window —

Then, isn’t he gone? He isn’t gone.

Serene rhythm, heartbeat of a bird —

go to sleep, the breath of a sea soul, go to sleep;

quietly, quietly this rhythm pulls your heart

like the rocking of the moored boat

that is pushed softly by the two fingers

of the moon, the watery moon. Good night.

When the shadows of the clouds will pass,

             with big strides, over the city

when the great message of the winds will return,

when the trees will chase their shadow in the sky

sharing with the clouds the rags of a wild tempest

when the dresses of women get glued on their legs

and the wind with the ripped landscape will carry on

             behind them

the cyclamens will poke up through schisms of the rocks

and the mouth of the night will be muffled by the water

of forgetfulness and the patched autumn overcoat will

show its square patches on the elbows and the lapels —

ah, at that time many carts loaded with baskets and hay

              will roll down the damp road,

straight from the spring villages, straight from

              the carefree of the plains

and the oil lamps will light all their memories

over the open books, over the crossed arms.

You’ll have your voice hidden in your pockets

like crumbs of our old bread, the ants hide in their earthly


you’ll still have something to feed the mouth of the damp

              evening star.

You, my friend, you come back when the countryside

              is deserted

every time the vacationers with their suitcases wait

              at the quay

and the evenings are sitting all alone in the square of

              the island

a long line of empty chairs turned upside on

the round tables where loneliness dines raising

              its veil a little,

and the garden benches left in the rain, my good friend

              my beloved friend

your silent unshaven face

your faithful arm

behind your strong shoulders

the roar of the gale —

how warm is your hand!

You’re here near me. Good evening.

The lonely moon — look — like a silver plate,

like a plate full of leftovers at the small restaurant

of sorrow when the travellers are gone and

you hear the far away whistle of the ship under

            the night rooms.

The gale behind your back; we can wait.

We know. We’re ready.

This evening ties us together with its silence.

We’ll talk tomorrow. These ropes that tied big ships,

our necks and our years, make a good scaffold.

             The sky

has known of us before we knew each other, before

we separated, before the handkerchief was waved

             from the deck.

Have you noticed? The weather has cleared up. A ripped

             cloud gets angry at the moon.

The hotel manager undresses behind the window.

             What time is it? 

And on top of the platform of the old summer with

             the exiled flags

you, my good friend, you light the cigarettes

of the stars, you tie our handkerchiefs –flags

on the wet wire, these handkerchiefs that we used

to wipe our foreheads and our eyes.

You’ll never leave. You’ll never leave us. Your hand,

your faithful hand which raises the shadows above our eyes

so we’ll see the dawn again between two burnt out candles.

              Good morning.

The children are coming. The sun pushes doors with its

shoulders. The doors open. Sky.

Eyes meet eyes. The world is enlarged. The white


Soon it’ll be sunny; daisies and whitewashed dreams

and a flag on the highest mast of high noon

will flutter in the sea breeze. Good morning.

             Good morning.



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