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ODYSSEUS ELYTIS

AEGEAN

I

Love The network of islands
And the prow of its foam
And the gulls of its dreams
On the highest mast a sailor
Whistles a song.

Love
Its song
And the horizons of its voyage
And the sound of its longing
On its wettest rock the bride
Waits for a ship

Love
Its ship
And the nonchalance of its winds
And the jib sail of its hope
On the lightest of its waves an island
Cradles the arrival.

II

Playthings, the waters
In their shadow flow
Speak with their kisses about the dawn
That begins
Horizoning-

And the pigeons in their cave
Rustle their wings
Blue awakening in the source
Of day
Sun-

The northwest wind bestows the sail
To the sea
The hair's caress
In the insouciance of its dream
Dew-cool-
Waves in the light
Revive the eyes
Where life sails towards The recognition
Life-

III

The surf a kiss on its caressed sand- Love
The gull bestows its blue liberty
To the horizon
Waves come and go
Foamy answer in the shell's ear.

Who carried away the blonde and sunburnt girl?
The sea-breeze with its transparent breath
Tilts dream's sail
Far out
Love murmurs its promise-Surf



THE MAD POMEGRANATE TREE

Inquisitive matinal; high spirits perdre haleine.

In these all-white courtyards where the south wind blows
Whistling through vaulted arcades, tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That leaps in the light, scattering its fruitful laughter
With windy willfulness and whispering, tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That quivers with foliage newly born at dawn
Raising high its colours in a shiver of triumph?

On plains where the naked girls awake,
When they harvest clover with their light brown arms
Roaming round the borders of their dreams-tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tre,
Unsuspecting, that puts the lights in their verdant baskets
That floods their names with the singing of birds-tell me
Is it the mad pomegranate tree that combats the cloudy skies of the world?

On the day that it adorns itself in jealousy with seven kinds of feathers,
Girding the eternal sun with a thousand blinding prisms
Tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That seizes on the run a horse's mane of a hundred lashes,
Never sad and never grumbling-tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That cries out the new hope now dawning?

Tell me, is that the pomegranate tree waving in the distance,
Fluttering a handkerchief of leaves of cool flame,
A sea near birth with a thousand ships and more,
With waves that a thousand times and more set out and go
To unscented shores-tell me, is it the pomegranate tree
That creaks the rigging aloft in the lucid air?

High as can be, with the blue bunch of grapes that flares and celebrates
Arrogant, full of danger-tell me, is it the mad pomegranate tree
That shatters with light the demon's tempest in the middle of the world
That spreads far as can be the saffron ruffle of day
Richly embroider with scattered songs-tell me, is it the pomegranate tree
That hastily unfastens the silk apparel of day?

In petticoats of April first and cicadas of the feast of mid-August
Tell me, that which plays, that which rages, that which can entice
Shaking out of threats their evil black darkness
Spilling in the sun's embrace intoxicating birds
Tell me, that which opens its wings on the breast of things
On the breast of our deepest dreams, is that the mad pomegranate tree?



AXION ESTI

From THE GENESIS

IN THE BEGINNING the light And the first hour

when lips still in clay
try out the things of the world

Green blood and bulbs golden in the earh
And the sea, so exquisite in her sleep, spread
Unbleached gauze of sky
Under the carob trees and the great upright palms

There alone I faced
the world
wailing loudly





From the PASSION

GREEK the language they gave me;

poor the house on Homer's shores.

My only care my language on Homer's shores.

There bream and perch

windbeaten verbs,

green sea currents in the blue,

all I saw light up in my entrails,

sponges, jellyfish

with the first words of the Sirens,

rosy shells with the first black shivers.

My only care my language with the first black shivers.

There pomegranates, quinces,

swarthy gods, uncles and cousins

emptying oil into giant jars;

and breaths from the ravine fragrant

with osier and terebinth

broom and ginger root

sweet psalms with the very first Glory Be to Thee.

There laurel and palm leaves

censer and incense

blessing the swords and muskets.

On soil spread with vine-scarves,

the smell of roasting lamb, Easter eggs cracking,

and "Christ is Risen,"

with the first salvoes of the Greeks.

and "Secret loves with the first words of the Hymn.

My only care my language with the first words of the first Hymn!



From THE GLORIA

PRAISED BE the wooden table

the blond wine with the sun's stain

the water doodling across the ceiling

the philodendron on duty in the corner

The walls hand in hand with the waves

a foot that gathered wisdom in the sand

a cicada that convinced a thousand others

conscience radiant like a summer

PRAISED BE the heatwave hatching

the beautiful boulders under the bridge

the shit of children with its green flies

a sea boiling and no end to it

The sixteen deckhands hauling the net

the restless seagull slowly cruising

stay voices out of the wilderness

a shadow's crossing through the wall

THE ISLANDS with all their minium and lampblack

the islands with the vertebra of some Zeus

the islands with their boat yards so deserted

the islands with their drinkable blue volcanoes

Facing the meltemi with jib close-hauled

Riding the southwester on a reach

the full length of them covered with foam

with dark blue pebbles and heliotropes


Sifnos, Amorgos, Alonnisos

Thasos, Ithaka, Santorini

Kos, Ios, Sikinos


PRAISED BE Myrto standing

on the stone parapet facing the sea

like a beautiful eight or a clay pitcher

holding a straw hat in her hand

The white and porous middle of day

the down of sleep lightly ascending

the faded gold inside the arcades

and the red horse breaking free

Hera of the tree's ancient trunk

the vast laurel grove, the light-devouring

a house like an anchor down in the depths

and Kyra-Penelope twisting her spindle

The straits for birds from the opposite shore

a citron from which the sky spilled out

the blue hearing half under the sea

The long-shadowed whispering of nymphs and maples

PRAISED BE, on the remembrance day

of the holy martyrs Cyrilcs and Julitta,

a miracle burning threshing floors in the heavens

priests and birds chanting the Ave:

Hail Girl Burning and hail Girl Verdant

Hail Girl Unrepenting, with the prow's sword

Hail you who walk and the footprints vanish

Hail you who wake and the miracles are born

Hail O Wild One of the depth's paradise

Hail O Holy One of the islands' wilderness

Hail O Mother of Dreams, Girl of the Open Seas

Hail O Anchor-bearer, Girl of the Five Stars

Hail you of the flowing hair, gilding the wind

Hail you of the lovely voice, tamer of demons

Hail you who ordain the Monthly Ritual of the Gardens

Hail you who fasten the Serpent's belt of stars

Hail O Girl of the just and modest sword

Hail O Girl prophetic and daedalic

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