Five poems of YANNIS RITSOS Translated by Manolis Aligizakis

15 November 2019
Author :  

Yannis Ritsos was born in Monemvasia, Greece, in 1909 to a well-heeled family of land owners. He did his early schooling in the region and finished high school in Gythion and in 1925 he moved to Athens where he started working in typing and copying legal documents. . He published his first poetry book Tractor, referring to the working class in 1934 and in 1935 his second book Pyramids; a year later his famous Epitaphios was published in an edition of ten thousand copies although some of them were publicly burned by the military government. In 1948 the poet is arrested and sent to exile on Limnos and then to Makronissos and later one to Saint Eustratios. In 1954 he married Filitsa Georgiadis, a doctor on the island of Samos and their daughter Ery was born in 1955. From this point on, his work began appearing in Greece regularly and his Moonlight Sonata won him the National Prize for Poetry. He died in 1990 at the age of 81.





Stony day

stony sun

stony silence


the horses died on the mountain

the trees died in the whitewash

you didn’t die


sound of their distant hooves

sound of the old panting

in the petrified noon


and the fear that perhaps you wouldn’t die

and the fear of water trickling

fear, water, breath – life






At night we lighted the oil lamps

and took the roads asking the passers-by


she wore a dress we said

in the color of dreams didn’t you see her?

She wore two light blue earrings


no one had seen her, only in the cabin at the end of the village

the old woman the lumberjack’s mother pointed her finger

and showed us the river behind the trees


down to where two light blue stars flickered





He said: the light with the enlarged eyes

with the enlarged arm hairs

with the magnified voices of builders on the opposite

construction site with the blinding sea

between their naked ribs is terrible


you have to get saddled with a mountain – he said –

that you may pass standing through the sun’s responsibility


however down in the basement – he said –

are the large empty barrels like coffins of your ancestors

there is the conciliatory shadow

and the oil stains on the floor

and the roots of the tree that pushes through the wall

its contorted fingers


The security of death – he said


there you hear the distant words of vineyards and seeds

you taste the silence and the moisture

you get used to being dead


and he was truly dead without being accustomed to it

when the long days came with flags

when light knocked on his door

no one opened


he was dead without being used to it





Come to the luminous beaches – he murmured to himself –

here where the colors celebrate – look –

here where the royal family never passed

with their closed carriages and official emissaries


come – it’s not good if they see you – he said –

I am the deserter of the night

I am the burglar of darkness

I have filled my shirt and my pockets with sun


come – it burns my hands and my chest

come let me give it to you


and I have something to tell you

that even I cannot hear






Defeated by the light- blue

with his head leaning on the knees of silence

dead tired of life

dead tired of youth

sunken inside his fire

and the seaweed stirring in his armpit –


the wave of day didn’t find resistance

not even on a pebble of his thought


as he was ready for love

and for death


Translated by Manolis Aligizakis


Literary Editor

লেখা পাঠাবার নিয়ম

মৌলিক লেখা হতে হবে।

নির্ভুল বানান ও ইউনিকোড বাংলায় টাইপকৃত হতে হবে।

অনুবাদ এর ক্ষেত্রে মুল লেখকের নাম ও সংক্ষিপ্ত লেখক পরিচিতি দিতে হবে।

আরো দিতে পারেন

লেখকের ছবি।

সংক্ষিপ্ত লেখক পরিচিতি।

বিষয় বস্তুর সাথে সামঞ্জস্যপূর্ণ অঙ্কন চিত্র বা ছবি। 

সম্পাদক | Editor

তারিক সামিন

Tareq Samin

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


লেখা পাঠাবার জন্য


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


We use cookies to improve our website. Cookies used for the essential operation of this site have already been set. For more information visit our Cookie policy. I accept cookies from this site. Agree