Archive for the ‘Star of Lenin Prize’ Category

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DEATHS

They also died naturally and unexpectedly. And they had left
some little bags with stale legumes and some others
with lead balls or with seeds of flowers and vegetables.
No one has opened them since. No one learned what they thought
about the duration in general or their personal duration.
To me – said Maria – it’s impressive that each little bag
is tied with a string of different color – yellow, purple,
olive green, silver. There is no red. Maria said this
and all of a sudden her face quite inexplicably turned red. We
bowed our heads as though being sorrowful; we agreed. Later on
the strings discolored – it wouldn’t show that the red was missing.

ΘΑΝΑΤΟΙ

Πέθαναν κι αυτοί το ίδιο φυσικά κι απροσδόκητα. Κι είχαν αφήσει
κάτι μικρά σακούλια με μπαγιάτικα όσπρια και κάτι άλλα
με μολυβένιους βώλους ή σπόρους φυτών και λουλουδιών. Κανένας
δεν τ’ άνοιξε έκτοτε. Κανένας δεν έμαθε τί σκέφτονταν
για τη διάρκεια γενικώς ή την προσωπική τους διάρκεια. Εμένα
—είπε η Μαρία—μου κάνει εντύπωση που το κάθε σακούλι
είναι δεμένο με σπάγκο σε άλλο χρώμα,—λεμονί, μενεξεδένιο,
λαδί, ασημί. Κόκκινο δεν υπάρχει. Έτσι είπε η Μαρία
και μονομιάς κοκκίνησε ανεξήγητα το πρόσωπό της. Εμείς
γείραμε το κεφάλι, σαν θλιμμένοι, συμφωνήσαμε. Αργότερα
ξεθώριασαν κι οι σπάγκοι—δε φαινότανε πια που το κόκκινο λείπει.

Yannis Ritsos-Selected Poems, Ekstasis Editions, summer 2013, translated by Manolis Aligizakis

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KOSTAS VARNALIS

Varnalis was born in Burgas, Eastern Rumelia (now in Bulgaria), in 1884. As his name suggests, his family originated from Varna; his father’s family name was Boubous.[1] He completed his elementary studies in the Zariphios Greek high school in Plovdiv and then moved to Athens to study literature at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. While there, he became involved in the Greek language dispute, taking the side of the demoticists over the supporters of the katharevousa. After his graduation in 1908 he worked for some time as a teacher in Burgas, before returning to Greece and teaching in Amaliada and Athens. During the next years, he worked as a teacher and part-time journalist, also engaging in translation work. In 1913, he took part in the Second Balkan War.
In 1919 he gained a scholarship and travelled to Paris where he studied philosophy, literature and sociology. It was during his Parisian studies that he became a Marxist and reviewed his ideas on poetry in theory and in practice. His political alignment resulted in his being dismissed from his teaching position at the Paedagocical Academy in 1926 and barred from any state employment. Varnalis thus took to journalism, a profession he practiced until the end of his life. In 1929, he married the poetess Dora Moatsou. In 1935, he participated in the Soviet Writers’ Conference in Moscow as Greece’s representative. Under the 4th of August Regime, he was sent to internal exile in Mytilene and Agios Efstratios. During the German Occupation of Greece, he took part in the resistance movement as a member of the National Liberation Front (EAM). In 1959, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. Varnalis died in Athens on 16 December 1974, and is buried in the First Cemetery of Athens.

RECENTLY

Everything is black in front of you, each and every day
seem darker than the nights. Behind the mountains
the photosphere was put out years ago.
And if your eyes turn back to look
your pain is double as you realize
today is more black than yesterday

ΤΑ ΛΟΙΣΘΙΑ
Όλα μπροστά σου μαύρα, η κάθε μέρα
πιο μαύρη από τη νύχτα. Η φωτοσφαίρα
σβημένη χρόνια πίσω απ’ τα βουνά.
Κι αν κάποτες τα μάτια σου γυρνάνε
πίσω, διπλά πονάς, `τί βλέπεις να `ναι
πιο μαύρα απ’ τα παλιά, τα τωρινά.

~ Kostas Varnalis, ΟΡΓΗ ΛΑΟΥ, RAGE OF THE PEOPLE, translated by Manolis Aligizakis