Yannis Ritsos – Poems, Selected Books, Volume II, Second Edition


Water pitchers and baskets at daybreak

aluminum plates, tin cans

shadows of the night, cries under the wooden beds;

this night has passed too. The chaki soil,

the chaki tent, the chaki scarecrow,

patched up blankets and the sky.

White bed-sheets shivering at the dawn breeze —

           who looks at them?

A wild olive tree leaf like a cloths peg on the cloths

           line — who pays attention to it and

who will undo the cloths peg that holds the kerchief

           of summer?

A white city with green window shutters is spread

           behind the mountains

buzz of many lorries carrying workers,

sacks of cement and power poles.

There are faraway, we know, many women

embittered, taciturn who lean down

holding a needle as if holding a sun ray sewing

a big flag; windows turn rosy, freshly painted.


A cat, out in the field, is playing

with the lemon cup of the moon.

No, we aren’t tired at all. We aren’t thirsty.

We changed our shirt, our light-blue shirt of dawn,

we shaved, where are we headed?

The white city spreads behind the mountains

where women sew the big flag.

Good morning

the forced labour starts. 



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