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Yannis Ritsos


Theodorakis’ Ballad

You've been told lies. Now sing the real words, Theodorakis growls from center stage. Inside your ear's the hammer of this world. From his throat, the notes are husky chords; a black-browed Greek, iron with age, who's been told lies, now sings [...]


At night, large ships sail past all lit up, furrowing the horizon with deep presentiments of sorrow. How quiet it is in the chambers of memory! The cheap hotel, the iron bed-frame, the cigarette butts on the stairs, an antique candlestick on the [...]


One by one the sleek bathers will leave. The fiery autumn sunsets will linger on the sea, with one sad skiff—and still we put off the rain, the rampaging winds, still we put off the inevitable (for how long?). Already yellow leaves pile up on [...]

Pointless Lucidity

Vague promises—who made them? and what for? Others made by us (who to?). We're used to it. We saw the mountains going by like overladen camels, we saw the fawn in the moon. Mothballed ships dirty the sunless waters with their rust. And up on t [...]

Two in the Afternoon

In the yellow field, a straw hat and a red cow. A white horse switching greenflies with its tail. I remembered the dead poet's cornfield, and sunflowers. I checked my watch: two o'clock. Some skin divers were coming back from the water, still in [...]

Sparse Leavings

Vineyards, olive groves, white houses strewn on the side of the hill, swallows, sparrows, cicadas—they almost belonged to us once. At night, the crickets lit up our sleep with their small cries. Helen went back to Sparta years ago—left us her [...]