[In the pandemonium that followed the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, Thersites
was attacked by Odysseus and took refuge in his tent. Odysseus chased after him and after boasting
that he would kill him straightaway if he ever set eyes on him again, he went away leaving the ugly
warrior angrily muttering to himself.]
The scoundrel has disappeared. But
he's watching me. I sense it, I can practically see him,
cowering in his mug's dirty shell,
that spiteful eye nervily playing with vengeance
like an unearthed bone.
Ugly cur! I'd turn him into food
for the mongrels that with comic eagerness
ran to meet us we arrived in this slaughterhouse.
(Some campaign! For ten years now,
we've been offering the perfect regime
to a populace of drooling tetrapods:
freedom for them to foul on us,
equality in the rending of our guts,
fraternity with the tics that feast
on the shortfall of our blood.
Fine! Fine! With grunts filled with rotten teeth
and bubonic spasms generation upon generation
will laud the endurance of the Greeks:
that persistent honing of a name
that wasn't even a rod.)
Drunkard! I'd drown him in the blood
that he so meticulously nurtures,
devouring others' hopes and dreams and expectations,
if I didn't know that his wolves would run wild
blinded by the smell of their brother's death.
Blinded by the smell!
When have you ever felt something whole?
When have you ever recognized something pure?
When have you ever toiled for something your own?
'All this slaughter can be endured by a soul
only as individual stimuli, ' Nestor says.
Where does the old man find such composure?
He assumes those unwashed failures of sound limb
have a soul.
That permanently good intention sickens me.
He nurtures it in his plinth gaze like a pet wound:
obese, arrogantly laconic, irritatingly slothful.
Some kind of immunity must be keeping it alive
after so many infectious denials.
A warrior has to know when he's in danger of crying.
There are no eagles among people.
I can't imagine prudence as a knife
that you leave on the dining table, when you go out to battle.
That image is one of the old man's best,
though not the most popular in a herd unable to comprehend
the meaning of a sentence with more than three words.
I cannot conceive of a system of values that you wash
and hang out to dry when it gets soaked in wanton blood.
That image is mine.
Except that I am not willing in poetic verse
to play up to the hypocrisy of the assemblies.
They came here for plunder and parade
the wounded honor of their race
like an old whore among the carcasses.
(But only up to a point are the dead harmless) .
I came here for plunder and I know I may end up
from one day to the next as plunder.
There's nothing I can do about that.
(Nothing more by me) .
'The ugliest man who came to Ilium.
Bandy-legged and lame in one foot.
His shoulders curved forward
meeting over his chest.
And above, an elongated head
with a little hair on its crown.'
Just so, my blind bard, just so!
The ugliest man, but not the only one,
though perhaps the most appropriate for supplying material
intended to stimulate words' natural slothfulness.
Words are slothful, my dear friend, I can assure you.
They have a mania for sitting on what they want to say,
until it stinks.
Then, they fly to another... coop, let's say.
What can you do during that short flight?
At any rate your winged words may be a decent idea.
I very much doubt if you know that.
As for me, I know what I know, what I must do, what I can hope.
I'll go out even if it means a bloodbath.
I need to pee.
poetryrepairs #245 18.02:002
YOUR INESCAPABLE FLOURISHING
...und die findigen Tiere merken es
schon, daß wir nicht sehr verläßilich
zu Haus sind in der gedeuteten Welt.
Your first winter has passed
like a painting before my window:
tears in my eyes, I await the spring.
Outside it snows; a warm snow like flakes of wool.
Behind the fences my unborn children chase around
and the diaphanous birds of light
strike against the windowpane, dipping to drink my tears.
The patience of the night holds me and I remain awake.
My soul a slender branch in your hands
struggles to frighten off all sleeplessness to come.
The nights stand, white unmoving forms
under the great patience of the stars,
and the wind, like the deep
sigh that struggled to fend itself from time,
brings a morning sweetness that transfixes
and a flood of ferment.
I do your bidding, and bow to your sleep,
flouting all that dazzling terror
which fills the night with startling cries,
with barefooted lamentation,
with teeming homes; there's always
some broken drawer,
a door that's jammed,
a tap that drips,
always something small and trivial
that refuses to acknowledge
the power of death.
I do your bidding and know that you will stand by me —
like the dog that lets itself
sink obstinately into worship
of the tomb of its loved one,
choosing rather to take the unknown path to death
than to accept the lonely surety of a stranger's hand.
You used to scatter delicious summer nights:
the sky above, a magnificent hall of light,
and all the light of the day forged
into intoxicating perfumes.
Where has your old bountifulness gone?
What dark need brings you
a beggar to the troubled gateway of memory?
You sailed into my azure expectation.
Now I finger your body: silent.
I finger my hands: blood.
I abandoned myself into your wooden hands
listening to time tick by
greedily in the night's heart.
your withered fingers and still less
the hope borne in your few leaves.
Yet it never crossed my mind
that I might be lost in this world,
wandering in a forest of self-slain hope.
Yet I never thought that
all the unrelenting toil of time might empty
beliefs and certainties,
forms and colours long-held.
I abandoned myself, I didn't think, but still I hope
for your inescapable flourishing.
How I have struggled to keep you within
the limits of my own time;
and there were occasions when I would rage
at your childlike insistence
on hiding yourself behind the shape of things,
leaving me alone
in frightful doubt
over my passion to confine
all my sight to one image,
all my thought to one song.
How I've struggled to call you, and yet
I know that we all grow up some time
—you included —
transcending the shape
of our gaze, the sound
of songs that stir
—tiny wee creatures —
on our gigantic fingers.
Yet I know that you have none other to watch you
and listen to you
than the wee creature that wriggles, beseeching
the vast presence of your hands.
poetryrepairs #245 18.02:002
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YORGOS BLANAS [Translated by David Connolly] Greek poet Yórgos Blánas was born in Athens, in 1959. He has studied Library Science. Besides poetry, he is also engaged in translating and copy editing, on a regular basis. He often writes articles for the Athenian press and literary magazines. He is member of the “Hellenic Authors Society” and “Poets Circle”.
High elaborate language, pensive expression and biblical imaging are attributes to his neo-romantic poetry. His works outbid any preceding tradition and reach post-modern practices, endeavoring to rewrite history in his own point of view with a consolidating essence towards the sufferings of Modern Man.
YORGOS BLANAS [Translated by JOHN C. DAVIES] Translations of his poems can be found especially in the following anthologies: •Greek Anthology [tr.by]: Gaoming Ma & Cai Shu. Guangxi: Lijiang Publishing House,2008. (Chinese) •A century of Greek poetry: 1900-2000. [tr.by]: Peter Bien, Peter Constantine, Edmund Keeley & Karen Van Dyck. New Jersey: Cosmos Publishing,2004. (English) •Anthologie de la poésie grecque,1975-2005. [tr.by]: Kostas Nassikas & Herve Bauer. Paris: L'Harmattan,2012. (French) •Fern von der dicht besiedelten Sprache: griechisch-deutsch. [tr.by]: Dadi Sideri-Speck. Köln: Romiosini Verlag,2006. (German)