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


Sit by the window. The first rain of the dusk

            forgives the trees.

One leaf turns yellow in your hands. You don’t know

             the day’s heaviness anymore.

Two keys, left on the table, think of all the locked


as when the spiders return to their webs

and the ashtray returns to its position in the room

like a star returns to its position in the sky.

Here each word falls noiselessly in the silence

like a burned letter in the hands of the sad man.

We’re better off to gather our days, to fold them

as we fold our summer cloths before we place them

             in the chest,

to place our joined hands on our knees

now when the clouds yawn over the roofs

now when sorrow spreads over your face silently

like the silence in the room of the university student

while the tempest intensifies outside.

The leftover cloths of time gather here —

it’s quiet over here, almost warm

you can close your eyes and hear the approaching

             night —

that particular walk on its broken heels —

its voice, following behind its worn out veil,

has a certain distant kindness and

there is a silent happiness behind the closed

window shutters, as if you were touching, with

your sorrowful fingers, that same tortured hand

of our old friend. 

Perhaps a few stars were left outside in the autumn

like the moonshine glasses left in the living room

with a few drops of cognac, after the visitors left along

with Nausicaa with a small twig lighting her shoulder

and mother, inside the evening mirror, was left all alone

trying to unhang her smile with her tired hand

in the same way she always takes the pins off her hair

             every evening.

Then suddenly the wind stopped

and the dog’s yelp was heard in the yard of the hanged

man, then the sound of the clock was heard

in the room like rain falling drop by drop in the

            darkened sea.

Put another blanket on the bed

it’s cold in the morning hours. Then, what were

we saying? Ah, yes, I almost forgot that letter.

The postman brought it in the afternoon. Perhaps it’s

            from your sister.

Your knees look so sad under the table like

the coiled ropes of a ship in the harbour during

          the winter

like the lamps that were left lighted at dawn

in a room next to the shore with the empty canary cage

and the burnt out cigarette in the metal sink.

But I don’t want, I can’t stay inside here with

this picture that felt sleepy in its smile,

the light shine on grandfather’s forgotten glasses  

the coffee cup with the cigarette butts, the old


How can you invert the idol of the evening in the mirror?

The glasses again, the cigarette butts — all the same;

nothing changes inside this mirror.

And a falling star lighted the mouth of the captain,

           locked on his pipe — he doesn’t talk;

a lonely horse vanishes in the forest;

an eye takes aim through the hole of the night.

No one talks. The moored ship with the turned off lights;

slowly, slowly; give me your hand, here is mine; don’t

say anything; but wake up early tomorrow morning; dawn

can’t wait — the light will shine on the trees tomorrow;

the windows facing the shore will say good morning

             to the sun tomorrow;

the sun never forgives such delays.



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