28 December 2014

Amorgos, Parts 2 & 3

They say the mountains tremble and the pines rage
when night bites off the pins of the roof tiles so the kalikantzari
        can get in
when the underworld sucks in the frothing scum of the torrents
or when the hairline on the pepper tree is hammered by the north wind

Only, the bullocks of the Achaians in the lush meadows of Thessaly
pasture lustily, with the incessant sun glaring down
eat green grass poplar leaves wild celery, drink clear water
       from the channels
smell of the sweat of the earth and afterwards fall deep asleep
      in the shade of the willows.

throw out your dead, said Heraclitus and he saw the sky turn pale
he saw in the mud two small cyclamen kissing
and he fell down to kiss his own dead body in the welcoming earth
just as the wolf comes down out of the oaks to see the dead dog
      and to howl

What does it matter, the drop that shines on your forehead?
I know the thunder wrote its name on your lips
I know an eagle built its eyrie in your eyes
but here on this marshy bank there is one road only
only one treacherous road and you must cross it
you must soak in blood before time catches up with you
and you must cross to the other side to see your companions again
flowers birds deer
to find another sea another kindness
to grasp Achilles' horses by their reins
instead of sitting mutely blaming the river
like Kitsos' mother when she stoned the river
because you will have become lost and your beauty grown old.
In the branches of a willow I see drying a shirt you wore as a child

take the flag of life to shroud death
let your heart not give way
let not your tear be lost on the unyielding earth
as the tear of the penguin was lost in the icy wastes
Lamentation is worthless
Life everywhere will be the same with the flute of snakes in the land
        of phantoms
with the song of thieves in the spice trees
with the knife of desire in the face of hope
with the sadness of spring in the leafy heart of an owl
It is enough if a plow is found, a keen sickle in a cheerful hand
it is enough if a only little wheat ripens
a little wheat for the holiday a little wine for remembrance a little water
        for the dust . . .

In the yard of the embittered the sun does not rise
only worms come up to taunt the stars
only horses sprout on ant hills
and the bats eat birds and piss seed

In the yard of the embittered the night does not fade
only the leaves throw up a river of tears
when the devil slips in to ride the dogs
and the black birds swim in a well of blood

In the yard of the embittered the eye has run dry
the brain has frozen and the heart has turned to stone
the flesh of frogs hangs in the spider's teeth
the unfed locusts scream at the vampire's feed

In the yard of the embittered the grass grows dark
only one evening in May a wind breaks in
a light step like the skipping of the field
a kiss from the white crests of the sea.

If you are thirsty for water we will wring out a cloud
and if you are hungry for bread we will butcher a nightingale
only the bitter herb waits a moment to open
the dark sky to lighten the mullein to flower

Yet it was a wind that fled a lark that was lost
it was the face of May the pale face of the moon
a light step like skipping in a the field
a kiss from the white crests of the sea. 

Trans, DGW.

For the complete Amorgos with the Greek: http://www.nauplion.net/Gatsos-AMORGOS.pdf

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