04 August 2013


                               by Angelos Sikelianos

Over rocks on the deserted shore, over the burning heat
          of harsh pebbles,
beside the emerald waves, noon, like a fountain,
          rose shimmering.

Salamis a blue trireme deep in the sea,
          in spring's spindrift;
the pines and mastic trees of Kineta a deep breath
          I drew inside me.

The sea burst into foam and, beaten by the wind,
          shattered white,
and a flock of goats, countless, iron-gray, plummeted headlong
          down the hill.

With two harsh whistles, fingers pressing
          his curled tongue,
the goatherd huddled them on the shore,
          the whole five hundred.

They gathered in close, crowding the brush
          and wild thyme,
and as they gathered, a drowsiness seized
          both goats and man.

And then, over the shore's stones and the goats' swelter,
          dead silence;
and between their horns, as from a tripod, the sun's quick heat
          shimmered upward.

Then we saw the herd's lord and master, the he-goat,
          rise alone
and mover off, he tread slow and heavy,
          toward a rock

wedged into the sea to shape a perfect lookout point'
          there he stopped,
on the very edge where spray dissolves,
          and leaning motionless,

upper lip pulled back so that his teeth shone,
          he stood
huge, erect, smelling the white-crested sea
          until sunset.   

from Angelos Sikelianos, Selected Poems.  Trans. by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. 1979.

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