1. Politics and Ethics

In Book Six of the Ethics Aristotle says that all knowledge can be classified into three categories: theoretical knowledge, practical knowledge, and productive knowledge. Put simply, these kinds of knowledge are distinguished by their aims: theoretical knowledge aims at contemplation, productive knowledge aims at creation, and practical knowledge aims at action. Theoretical knowledge involves the study of truth for its own sake; it is knowledge about things that are unchanging and eternal, and includes things like the principles of logic, physics, and mathematics (at the end of the Ethics Aristotle says that the most excellent human life is one lived in pursuit of this type of knowledge, because this knowledge brings us closest to the divine). The productive and practical sciences, in contrast, address our daily needs as human beings, and have to do with things that can and do change. Productive knowledge means, roughly, know-how; the knowledge of how to make a table or a house or a pair of shoes or how to write a tragedy would be examples of this kind of knowledge. This entry is concerned with practical knowledge, which is the knowledge of how to live and act. According to Aristotle, it is the possession and use of practical knowledge that makes it possible to live a good life. Ethics and politics, which are the practical sciences, deal with human beings as moral agents. Ethics is primarily about the actions of human beings as individuals, and politics is about the actions of human beings in communities, although it is important to remember that for Aristotle the two are closely linked and each influences the other.

The fact that ethics and politics are kinds of practical knowledge has several important consequences. First, it means that Aristotle believes that mere abstract knowledge of ethics and politics is worthless. Practical knowledge is only useful if we act on it; we must act appropriately if we are to be moral. He says at Ethics 1103b25: “The purpose of the present study [of morality] is not, as it is in other inquiries, the attainment of theoretical knowledge: we are not conducting this inquiry in order to know what virtue is, but in order to become good, else there would be no advantage in studying it.”

Second, according to Aristotle, only some people can beneficially study politics. Aristotle believes that women and slaves (or at least those who are slaves by nature) can never benefit from the study of politics, and also should not be allowed to participate in politics, about which more will be said later. But there is also a limitation on political study based on age, as a result of the connection between politics and experience: “A young man is not equipped to be a student of politics; for he has no experience in the actions which life demands of him, and these actions form the basis and subject matter of the discussion” (Ethics 1095a2). Aristotle adds that young men will usually act on the basis of their emotions, rather than according to reason, and since acting on practical knowledge requires the use of reason, young men are unequipped to study politics for this reason too. So the study of politics will only be useful to those who have the experience and the mental discipline to benefit from it, and for Aristotle this would have been a relatively small percentage of the population of a city. Even in Athens, the most democratic city in Greece, no more than 15 percent of the population was ever allowed the benefits of citizenship, including political participation. Athenian citizenship was limited to adult males who were not slaves and who had one parent who was an Athenian citizen (sometimes citizenship was further restricted to require both parents to be Athenian citizens). Aristotle does not think this percentage should be increased – if anything, it should be decreased.

Third, Aristotle distinguishes between practical and theoretical knowledge in terms of the level of precision that can be attained when studying them. Political and moral knowledge does not have the same degree of precision or certainty as mathematics. Aristotle says at Ethics 1094b14: “Problems of what is noble and just, which politics examines, present so much variety and irregularity that some people believe that they exist only by convention and not by nature….Therefore, in a discussion of such subjects, which has to start with a basis of this kind, we must be satisfied to indicate the truth with a rough and general sketch: when the subject and the basis of a discussion consist of matters that hold good only as a general rule, but not always, the conclusions reached must be of the same order.” Aristotle does not believe that the noble and the just exist only by convention, any more than, say, the principles of geometry do. However, the principles of geometry are fixed and unchanging. The definition of a point, or a line, or a plane, can be given precisely, and once this definition is known, it is fixed and unchanging for everyone. However, the definition of something like justice can only be known generally; there is no fixed and unchanging definition that will always be correct. This means that unlike philosophers such as Hobbes and Kant, Aristotle does not and in fact cannot give us a fixed set of rules to be followed when ethical and political decisions must be made. Instead he tries to make his students the kind of men who, when confronted with any particular ethical or political decision, will know the correct thing to do, will understand why it is the correct choice, and will choose to do it for that reason. Such a man will know the general rules to be followed, but will also know when and why to deviate from those rules. (I will use “man” and “men” when referring to citizens so that the reader keeps in mind that Aristotle, and the Greeks generally, excluded women from political part icipation. In fact it is not until the mid-19th century that organized attempts to gain the right to vote for women really get underway and even today in the 21st century there are still many countries which deny women the right to vote or participate in political life).



The Second Advent of Zeus-Review

merging dimensions cover



By João da Penha






Singing, everyone sings, but singers only about ten or twelve.


The boutade, they say, is by Frank Sinatra, whose remarkable vocal skills – it seems to me – have not been contested to this day.

To paraphrase the song of the great American singer, it can be said that there are not so many poets like this in the world – here and elsewhere, yesterday and today. I suspect that there will never be many poets, or at least many great poets. At least, I am convinced, not as many as the growing number of edited collections suggest, by marketing strategy arts, just under hyperbolic titles.

Many poetic exercise exercises it, or imagine exercising it. But to make great poetry is grace granted to a minority; to a caste of elect, therefore.

Schiller, by the way, has already warned that it is not enough to create good verses so that its author considers himself a poet. Now, to do verses, almost everyone, at some point in life, has already done. To make POETRY, however, is the road traveled by the minority referred to above. Only she, this chosen caste, has the map of the trail. Whoever holds it, who knows how to read it, interprets its coordinates, leads the others, that is, all of us, who have formed this majority, as creators, of the poetic territory, only by traveling, if sensitive to the Muses, as travelers. For the senseless, the tour of this territory will be nothing more than mere tourism.

Eric Ponty has the map of the trail. He is an authentic poet. Maturity is everything, the supreme bard in the “King Lear” told us. Poet, owner of his craft, poet who reached the full domain of poetic making.

His poetic virtuosity, Ponty has already shown and demonstrated in the magnificent “Retirement Boy Goes to the Circus in Brodowski” (Musa Publishing House, São Paulo, 2003.) In this book with its translation, our poet only makes it reaffirmed. For example when translating this stanza of Manolis’ poem Apollo, which reminds us of Paul Valéry’s Socratic prose in Eupalinos Lame et la Danse Dialogue De L arbre:




And I grew under Apollo’s sun


minutes of expressiveness

alone in darkness and

before I opened my eyes

I was accompanied

by the law of failure

born blind and

accused of heresy

a revolution in its making

even before I could utter

a groan or a begging cry


I gathered all my strength

to pick a date with death

hours before I appeared

in my mother’s arms

newborn festivity

error permitted

two legs just to walk

a heart as if

to feel emotion and

other human traces

of grandeur






E eu cresci sob o sol de Apolo


Minutos de expressividade

Sozinho nas trevas e

Antes de abrir os meus olhos

Eu estava acompanhado

Pela lei da bobagem


Nasceu cega e

Acusada de heresia

Uma conflagração na sua fazendo

Mesmo antes que eu pudesse articular

Um suspiro ou um grito a mendigar


Eu ajuntei toda minha força

A seleção de uma data com a morte

Horas antes eu semelhava

Nos meus braços da minha mãe

Festa de um recém-nascido

Erro admitido

As duas pernas apenas a pé

Um coração como se

Sentisse à emoção e

Outros traços humanos

Da grandeza


This defense can be translated as the recognition that poets inhabit a province where logic does not bow down to the principles that govern the empirical world (nothing is more real than nothing, pre-Socratic Democritus preached). Poets know that. That’s why your particular logic. Particular, but not arbitrary. Particular because only they have the “kingdom key”.

Croce and Vossler, the memory comes to me now, they polemicized around the phrase: “The round table is square”. For the Italian thinker, the phrase would sum up to a total absence of meaning, illogical, while the German critic saw it as true, aesthetically and grammatically valid, caring little that logically impossible. Vossler, like so many others, before and after him, realized that the poet is the one who creates realities. Poets are creators of worlds. Therefore, in the poems translated by Eric Ponty, a musician, as well as a poet, he follows the Wagnerian advice that the poet does nothing but stimulate the understanding, leading the reader to make new combinations on the subject already known by means of sensory perception.

If, as Ponty tells us in one of the translated poems, “In My Mother’s Arms /newborn festivity / error permitted / two legs just to walk” it is equally true that we should listen to what poets have to say (few decipher the world better than poets, neighbors to philosophers). Eric Ponty, at the height of his creative force, has much to tell us through these translations as he did with Manolis-a Canadian Greek poet who’s credit is The Second Advent of Zeus a masterful piece.


“…for his sustained reflection, for a lyrical voice, and an invitation to see life not as a barren subject, but as a complex dynamic that has its own extraordinary design and imago of truth” as Ilya Tourtidis tells us, it is urgent that we listen to Manolis’ voice through the translation of the poet-translator Ponty, one of the most talented of his time.




João da Penha, a journalist and retired professor, collaborated in cultural publications such as Encounters with Brazilian Civilization, Cult and Tempo Brasileiro. Author, among other books, of What Is Existentialism (Brasiliense, 2011, 17. ed.) And Philosophical Periods (Ática 2000, 4. ed.), Translated for magazines and newspapers poems by Russians Sierguêi Iessiênin and Alieksandr Blok, and short stories By José María Argüedas, Júlio Cortázar and Gabriel García Márquez, published in The first short stories of ten masters of Latin American narrative (Paz e Terra, 1978). How to read Wittgenstein. São Paulo: Paulus, 2013.







As history teaches us, the contrast between life and art has made it easy to think of Cavafy in the abstract, as an artist whose work exists free from tradition and attachment to a specific moment in time. This trend has been prompted by the two elements of his poetry for which he is most famous: his surprisingly contemporary theme (one of his themes, at least), and his attractive and direct style.

Certainly there have always been many readers who appreciate the so-called historical poems, situated in magical places of the Mediterranean during times that have been long dead and acrimonious with sociable irony and a certain tired stoicism. (“Ithaca gave you the beautiful journey, / without her you would not have put in the passage. / But now she has nothing to give you,” he writes in what may be the most famous evocation of ancient Greek culture: the journey is always more important than the fatefully disappointing destination.) This can be seen in the poem:


Honor to all of those who in their lives

have settled on, and guard, a Thermopylae.

Never stirring from their obligations;

just and equitable in all of their affairs,

but full of pity, nonetheless, and of compassion;

generous whenever they’re rich, and again

when they’re poor, generous in small things,

and helping out, again, as much as they are able;

always speaking nothing but the truth,

yet without any hatred for those who lie.

And more honor still is due to them

when they foresee (and many do foresee)

that Ephialtes will make his appearance in the end,

and that the Medes will eventually break through


But it is probably fair to say that the popular reputation of Cavafy rests almost entirely on the remarkably preexisting way in which his other “sensual” poems, often not considered as this poet’s gift, deal with the ever-fascinating and pertinent themes of erotic desire, realization and loss.

The way, too, when memory preserves what desire so often cannot sustain. That desire and longing only makes it appear more contemporary, closer to our own times. Perhaps this is the case with Manolis’ poem:



After leaving our marks

on the sole lamppost

we parted

she to the west

I to the east

with a promise

to meet again

by this lamppost

and trace our marks

though we never thought of the Sirens

the Cyclops and the angry Poseidon

though we never thought of the pricey



No one but Cavafy, who studied history not only eagerly but with a studious respect and meticulous attention to detail, would have recognized the dangers of abstracting people from their historical contexts; and nowhere is this abstraction more dangerous than in the case of Cavafy himself.




You said: “I’ll go to another land, to another sea;
I’ll find another city better than this one.
Every effort I make is ill-fated, doomed;
and my heart —like a dead thing—lies buried.
How long will my mind continue to wither like this?
Everywhere I turn my eyes, wherever they happen to fall
I see the black ruins of my life, here
where I’ve squandered, wasted and ruined so many years.”
New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will return to the same streets.
You will age in the same neighborhoods; and in these
same houses you will turn gray. You will always
arrive in the same city. Don’t even hope to escape it,
there is no ship for you, no road out of town.
As you have wasted your life here, in this small corner
you’ve wasted it in the whole world.


Surely his work is as good as great poetry can be and at the same time timeless in the way we like to think that great literature can be alchemizing details of the poet’s life, times and obsessions into something relevant to a large audience over the years and even centuries.

But the tendency to see Cavafy as one of us, as one in our own time, speaking to us with a voice that is transparent and admittedly ours about things whose meaning is self-evident, threatens to take away a specific detail one that, if we give it back to him, makes him look larger than life and more a poet of the future, as it was once described, rather than the time he lived in. This detail also pertains to the biography of Manolis who refers to mythical passages of his home-country and unfolds scenes of sensuality, abandonment and loss.

Cavafy’s style, to begin with, is far less prosaic, much richer although not musical, and rooted deeply in the nineteenth century in which he lived for more than half of its life. Some readers will be surprised to learn that many of Cavafy’s poems, even when he was almost forty, were cast as sonnets or other prepared forms of verse.

Manolis was born in Kolibari a small village west of Chania on the Greek island of Crete in 1947. At an early age his family took him first to Thessaloniki and then to Athens where he was educated, earning a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the Panteion University of Athens.

The subject in some of Cavafy which tend to be overlooked by readers as difficult are the poems deliberately placed in the dark, geographical and temporal margins of the Greek past: poems which seem not to have much to do with today’s concerns and are often passed in favor of works with more contemporary appeal.

Perhaps this is the case with Manolis who draws from the same Greek sources as Cavafy does making historical references to Greece, the cradle where his soul was born, when he creates the Greek myths interacted in his contemporary poetry. Even far from his motherland Greece where he resides now he still retains in his poetic memory, images and themes he channels through verve in this book and others.


Can Manolis channel the beauty as easily as he describes in his verse? “An ancient time leader / as an anointed and pious / a musical instrument of candor flowing free / ready to speak with words that relieve pain and free the soul?” Yes its main tool is its firsthand experience of the power of Eros. His psychological makeup attracts and conveys authenticity and happiness based on his worship and being adored by sensual and provocative female figures exposing him in an ecstatic transcendence through his bodies of lust and his deep love and dedicated understanding. It is obvious that he finds his purpose in falling in love passionately for his beloved.

He does not hide that before he emerged he wanted to become “a festival / movement song of a bird / a vesper / a simple sigh / that will heal the lips of his beloved.” If he feels impotent in the face of inconceivable and unlimited Destiny, he declares that a woman’s embrace beckons him and he likes to give in to his passion: “dark and vague circle / forever indeterminable / and this, the command / and this, the Obedience / This, the orgasm / and this, the Eros / and this is you.” He feels being favored by Eros he diffuses his burning passion with light that fills his erotic verses. As a gallant defender of lust and sensuality and the true emotions of love, he delivers the joy and joy to the soul.


Both idealism and pragmatism, messianism, but also the tradition in the languor of the senses, the subjects of love dedicated to ephemeral satisfaction and erotic drunkenness make up the changes of its vast poetic content. Having the maturity of an accomplished poet and the ability to create evocative images in a personal way, the poet introduces us to what constitutes the most brilliant expression of his most intimate thoughts and beliefs in front of the world of his time and age.

The way, too, where memory preserves what desire so often can’t sustain. That desire and longing were for other men only makes it appear more contemporary, closer in our own times as we see in this opening poem of Golden Kiss, which poem may seem obscene and prosaic created by a minor poet, but when creating by a poet as Manolis locks up the erotic aura of a Moravia.


like a bird stilled by camera lens

her scandalous vulva visits his mind

from days of that August

on the scorched island

in low tone siesta

in muffled moaning

lest the mirror would crack from tension



In the 1880s and 1890s, Constantine Cavafy was a young man with modest literary ambitions, writing verses and contributing articles, critiques and essays, mostly in Greek but in English (A language in which he was perfectly at home as a result of spending a few of his adolescence years in England), on a number of idiosyncratic subjects, Alexandria and Athenian newspapers. This similarity in biographies binds Cavafy with Manolis who lives in Vancouver and writes poems in Greek and English referring to both countries.


Yannis Ritsos was born in Monemvasia, Greece, on May 1, 1909, in a family of landowners. He did his early schooling and finished high school in Gythion, Monemvasia and after graduating in 1925, he moved to Athens where he began working on typing and copying legal documents. A year later, he returned to his home town where he spent his time writing and painting, another form of art that he devoted himself which along with his writing he kept for the rest of his life, perhaps the painting has given him elements of his sensual poems:



Our women are distant, their sheets smell of goodnight.

They put bread on the table as a token of themselves.

It’s then that we finally see we were at fault; we jump up saying,

‘Look, you’ve done too much, take it easy, I’ll light the lamp.

’She turns away with the striking of the match,

walking towards the kitchen, her face in shadow,

her back bent under the weight of so many dead –

those you both loved, those she loved, those

you alone loved . . . yes . . . and your death also


Listen: the bare boards creaking where she goes.

Listen: the dishes weeping in the dishrack.

Listen: the train taking soldiers to the front.



Sometimes the poems are invested with the fractured logic of the dream with images of dream events or they’re placed in a landscape of dreams that grows, as one reads more, more and more recognizable, less strange, always attractive. At the same time, their locations and quotations are redemptive of a completely recognizable Greece: the balconies, the geraniums, the statuary, women in their black attires and, in a lasting way, the sea. His touch is light, but its effect is profound. Much depends on the image that causes the narrative movement. Some poems are so small, so distilled, that the fragments of history given to us – the kids’ psychodramas – have an irresistible power. “The less I get the bigger it gets,” said Alberto Giacometti and the same powerful reticence is a feature in Ritsos’ shorter poems.


The content of Yannis Ritsos also deserves renewed attention – both the specific themes of the individual poems, which in fact keep the historical and the erotic in a single focus.

Eroticism is one of the appearances of man’s inner life. In this one deludes himself because one is seeking his fixed object of desire. But this object of desire responds to the internal desire. The choice of an object always depends on the individual’s personal tastes: even if it falls on the woman most would have selected, what comes into play is often an unspeakable aspect, not an objective characteristic of this woman unless she has touched the inner being of man she creates the force to choose her.

The notion of disorientation (similar, perhaps, to the effect of a mild virus), when heightened emotion puts us at odds with the world, when the aromas become sour, when a view of the garden becomes desolate, when household objects shed their purpose, is perfectly evoked in these ten lines. There is an immediate recognition of a precarious ontological state tied to a story until, a moment later, we realize that we can see that street, see that window, see through that door:





It was just luck: I open the door, the two women

side by side on the sofa


in his black handkerchief,

mother and daughter, perhaps,


staying immobile, unpronounceable, a mouthful of bread

on the table, a cat sleeping on the couch.


Looking away and the sun at the top of the waves, cicadas

the swallows attractions in blue. They look back.


I almost had it, I almost had it in one of them.

Then Mother got up and closed the door.


This poem by Yannis Ritsos refers us to another poem by Manolis but more sensual and right:


Nothing to hold onto

but ourselves in lust

and the cenotaph with

names engraved in marble

yet in this near futile void

a sudden speck of light

gleams on Suzanne’s breast

as a lightning flash like

when her eyes demanded

a deeper meaning to this: are we

to search for it during this dark night

with our two bodies as the only absolution?


The sensuality of the Mediterranean world may be in the Greek soul of the poets to a greater or lesser degree, as we have seen over the years and centuries, referring to the idea that the Greek gods though dead are alive in the souls of the Greeks: Eros and Dionysus are alive from the bygone days of yesteryears to today and even more so in the case of Manolis who lives in Vancouver but has not forgotten his Cretan roots, and he writes in both Greek and English and shows with his simple poem Golden Kiss the sensual and erotic connection between his poetry and that of Cavafy and Yannis Ritsos.


~Eric Ponty, poet, translator, Sao Paolo, Brazil, 2016

The Medusa Glance, by Manolis Aligizakis




Τα φτερά του Έρωτα ανοίγουν να καλοσορίσουν το μελαγχολικό νέο που κάθεται στην ταφόπετρα, απελπισμένος φανοστάτης που αποζητά το θάνατό του μέσα στη δίνη της αγάπης καθώς η χήρα αναλώνεται στα δίχτια του φεγγαριού που τη ταλανίζει.


—Δεν έβαλες την ψηστιέρα στην άκρη. Πότε θα τη βάλεις τα μεσάνυχτα;


Απόηχοι από ομιλίες της πόλης ξυπνούν της χήρας το λίμπιντο και ντύνουν το δέρμα της με τη λευκότη του γιασεμιού. Ποτέ μην κλείσεις τα μάτια μπροστά στον πιο απελπισμένο θάνατο. Ποτέ μην κλείσεις τα μάτια μπροστά στο πιο φριχτό έγκλημα


—Έλα και σφίξε τη βίδα του νεροχύτη το νερό χύνεται παντού.


Τίποτα άλλο δεν έχει σημασία από την πολυθρόνα που αναζητά το σχήμα του κορμιού μου όπως κι η χήρα αναζητά το κορμί του πεθαμένου άντρα της


—Σε θέλω να βάλεις βερνίκι στις καρέκλες και το τραπέζι της τραπεζαρίας, μ’ ακούς;


Είχα στο νου μου να γράψω ένα ποίημα όταν ξαφνικά άρχισε ο Αρμαγεδώνας: η σύζυγος που απαιτεί μέρος ρτου χρόνου μου.


—Θέλω να `ρθεις να κάτσεις εδώ και να με κοιτάζεις στα μάτια. Όλη μέρα.





Eros descends to cheer the melancholic youth who sits on the gravestone as a beacon of despair seeking his death in the whirl of love while the widow tosses and turns in the pangs of the tormenting moon.


— You haven’t put the barbeque away when you plan to do it, midnight?


Echoes of voices from the city arouse the widow’s sexuality dressing her skin in the whiteness of the jasmine flowers. Never close your eyes in front of the most desperate death. Don’t ever close your eyes in front of the most deplorable killing.


— I want you to tighten the screw of this faucet the water splashes all over my sink.


Nothing matters more than the arm chair craving my body as the widow craves her late husband.


— I want you to polish the dining room table and chairs: hear me?


I had in mind to write a poem when suddenly the Armageddon commenced: wife demanding her share of my time.


—I want you to sit here and look straight into my eyes all day long!


The Medusa Glance, Libros Libertad, Summer-fall 2017

Yannis Ritsos

Ritsos_front large



Μέρες καλοκαιριού—τό φώς, οι πέτρες, θάλασσα, σταφύλια.

Σβησμένα γεγονότα. Ο ορίζοντας ίδιος ώς τό βάθος. Ο χάρτης

στό διάδρομο τού πανδοχείου ξεθώριασε ολότελα απ’ τόν ήλιο.

Οι εφημερίδες φτάνουν καθυστερημένες—δέν τίς διαβάζεις.

Λάμπει μιά ψάθα τρυγητή στή μέση τής πεδιάδας.

Ο τυφλός παίζει ακορντεόν. Τουρίστες μέ υπνόσακους περνάνε.

Κι άξαφνα, τά μεσάνυχτα, η απόλυτη λέξη σέ φτάνει

σά σφύριγμα πλοίου μές στόν ύπνο σου, καί δέν μπορείς νά ξυπνήσεις.


~Καρλόβασι, 22-8-78





Summer days – the light, the rocks; sea, grapes.

Forgotten events. The horizon same to its end. On the wall

of the hostel the map completely faded from the sunlight.

The newspapers arrive late – you don’t read them.

In the midst of the valley the hat of a grape picker shines.

The blind man plays the accordion. Tourists go by with sleeping bags.

And suddenly, at midnight, the absolute word reaches you

like a whistle of a ship in your sleep, and you cannot wake up.


~Karlovasi, 22-8-78



YANNIS RITSOS — POEMS, Ekstasis Editions, 2013

ΓΙΑΝΝΗ ΡΙΤΣΟΥ — Ποιήματα/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη

Οδυσσέας Ελύτης – Το οικόπεδο με τις τσουκνίδες


Μιαν από τις ανήλιαγες μέρες εκείνου του χειμώνα, ένα πρωί Σαββάτου, σωρός αυτοκίνητα και μοτοσικλέτες εζώσανε τον μικρό συνοικισμό του Λευτέρη, με τα τρύπια τενεκεδένια παράθυρα και τ’ αυλάκια των οχετών στο δρόμο.
Και φωνές άγριες βγάνοντας, εκατεβήκανε άνθρωποι με χυμένη την όψη στο μολύβι και τα μαλλιά ολόισα, ίδιο άχερο. Προστάζοντας να συναχτούν οι άντρες όλοι στο οικόπεδο με τις τσουκνίδες. Και ήταν αρματωμένοι από πάνου ως κάτου, με τις μπούκες χαμηλά στραμμένες κατά το μπουλούκι. Και μεγάλος φόβος έπιανε τα παιδιά, επειδή τύχαινε, σχεδόν όλα, να κατέχουνε κάποιο μυστικό στην τσέπη ή στην ψυχή τους. Αλλά τρόπος άλλος δεν ήτανε, και χρέος την ανάγκη κάνοντας, λάβανε θέση στη γραμμή, και οι άνθρωποι με το μολύβι στην όψη, το άχερο στα μαλλιά και τα κοντά μαύρα ποδήματα ξετυλίξανε γύρω τους το συρματόπλεγμα. Και κόψανε στα δύο τα σύγνεφα, όσο που το χιονόνερο άρχισε να πέφτει, και τα σαγόνια με κόπο κρατούσανε τα δόντια στη θέση τους, μήπως τους φύγουν ή σπάσουνε.


Τότε, από τ’ άλλο μέρος φάνηκε αργά βαδίζοντας να ‘ρχεται Αυτός με το Σβησμένο Πρόσωπο, που σήκωνε το δάχτυλο κι οι ώρες ανατρίχιαζαν στο μεγάλο ρολόι των αγγέλων. Και σε οποίον λάχαινε να σταθεί μπροστά, ευθύς οι άλλοι τον αρπάζανε από τα μαλλιά και τον εσούρνανε χάμου πατώντας τον. Ώσπου έφτασε κάποτε η στιγμή να σταθεί και μπροστά στον Λευτέρη. Αλλά κείνος δε σάλεψε. Σήκωσε μόνο αργά τα μάτια του και τα πήγε μεμιάς τόσο μακριά – μακριά μέσα στο μέλλον του – που ο άλλος ένιωσε το σκούντημα κι έγειρε πίσω με κίντυνο να πέσει. Και σκυλιάζοντας, έκανε ν’ ανασηκώσει το μαύρο του πανί, ναν του φτύσει κατάμουτρα. Μα πάλι ο Λευτέρης δε σάλεψε.
Πάνω σ’ εκείνη τη στιγμή, ο Μεγάλος Ξένος, αυτός που ακολουθούσε με τα τρία σιρίτια στο γιακά, στηρίζοντας στη μέση τα χέρια του, κάγχασε: ορίστε, είπε, ορίστε οι άνθρωποι που θέλουνε, λέει, ν’ αλλάξουνε την πορεία του κόσμου! Και μη γνωρίζοντας ότι έλεγε την αλήθεια ο δυστυχής, καταπρόσωπο τρεις φορές του κατάφερε το μαστίγιο. Αλλά τρίτη φορά ο Λευτέρης δε σάλεψε. Τότε, τυφλός από τη λίγη πέραση που ‘χε η δύναμη στα χέρια του, ο άλλος, μη γνωρίζοντας τι πράττει, τράβηξε το περίστροφο και του το βρόντηξε σύρριζα στο δεξί του αυτί.

Και πολύ τρομάξανε τα παιδιά, και οι άνθρωποι με το μολύβι στην όψη και το άχερο στα μαλλιά και τα κοντά μαύρα ποδήματα κέρωσαν. Επειδή πήγανε κι ήρθανε γύρω τα χαμόσπιτα, και σε πολλές μεριές το πισσόχαρτο έπεσε και φανήκανε μακριά, πίσω απ’ τον ήλιο, οι γυναίκες να κλαίνε γονατιστές, πάνω σ’ ένα έρμο οικόπεδο, γεμάτο τσουκνίδες και μαύρα πηχτά αίματα. Ενώ σήμαινε δώδεκα ακριβώς το μεγάλο ρολόι των αγγέλων.

by Αντικλείδι ,

Γιάννης Ρίτσος//Yannis Ritsos

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Χρόνια και χρόνια αδημονούσε, γδυνόταν
μπροστά σε μικρούς ή μεγάλους καθρέφτες,
μπροστά σε όποιο τζάμι, δοκίμαζε με προσοχή
τη μια, την άλλη στάση, να διαλέξει, να εφεύρει
την πιο δική του, την πιο φυσική, για να γίνει
το τελειωμένο του άγαλμα—παρ’ όλο που τόξερε
πως συνηθέστερο τ’ αγάλματα ετοιμάζονται
για τους νεκρούς, κι ακόμη συνηθέστερο
για κάποιους άγνωστους, ανύπαρκτους θεούς.

~Αθήνα, 17-3-71


For years and years he longed, he undressed
in front of small or large mirrors,
in front of every window, he carefully tried
one or another pose trying to choose, to invent
his own most natural pose, so that he would become
the perfect statue of himself – although he knew
that usually statues were prepared
for the dead and even more
often for some unknown, inexistent gods.

~Athens, 17-3-71

NOSTOS and ALGOS//Νόστος και Άλγος

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Με υπομονή κι επιμονή
κράτησες τη ζωή σου ανάμεσα
σε πλημμυρίδα χαρωπή
κι άμπωτη μελαγχολική
συχνά πήγες μπροστά
και πίσω αμέτρητες φορές
κι έδωσες και πήρες
και δίδαξες κι έμαθες
ίσαμε την υγρή εκείνη όχθη
του ήρεμου Αχαίροντα
με το μεθυστικό ρυθμό του
προς μια κατεύθυνση
την τελική
που πιθανόν και να μην είναι
έχεις να δείς ακόμα τόσα
κι έχεις να πείς πολλά
ακόμα τόσες ν’ αγκαλιάσεις
χαρές και λύπες
πρέπει λοιπόν να υπάρχει
κι άλλη μια φορά.

Σίγουρα πρέπει
να υπάρχει.



With persistence and patience
you coached your body
to the ebb and slow
current of melancholy tide
often you went forth and
many a time you reclined back
taking and giving
learning and teaching
until the final Acheron
with its undulating end
going one direction
and you know

this better not be the final
still you have
many things to see
many goals to pursue
still you have
many people to touch
joys and sorrows to live

then, there must be
another time
there must be
it must

~NOSTOS AND ALGOS, Ekstasis Editions, Victoria BC, 2012

Yannis Ritsos//Γιάννης Ρίτσος

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Στό λιμανάκι η θάλασσα αντιγράφει
τα φύλλα και τα σύγνεφα και τα πουλιά
ωραία, προσεχτικά και καλλιγραφημένα—
ο αγέρας πού και πού με κάτι γαλανές χοντρές γραμμές
υπογραμμίζει βιαστικά τα λάθη της.

Μα αυτός που γράφει ολημερίς κοιτάζοντας τη θάλασσα
δεν κάνει ούτε ένα λάθος,—πικραμένη μου γαλήνη,—
κι όλο προσμένει την αγάπη αμίλητος
να υπογραμμίζει την καρδιά μου—μόνο λάθος.

In the little harbor the sea copies
leaves, clouds, birds
beautifully, carefully and calligraphically –
from time to time the wind hastily underlines the sea’s
mistakes with some thick light-blue lines.

But the one who writes all day long staring at the sea
makes no mistakes – my embittered serenity –
and speechless he always yearns for love
to underline my heart – the only mistake.

Ο ουρανός σου αναθέτει όλο του το γαλάζιο.
Πώς θ’ αντέξουν οι ώμοι σου όλη μέρα;
Πώς θ’ αντέξουν τα πλευρά του τραγουδιού σου;
The sky entrusts you with all its light-blue.
How will your shoulders endure it all day?
How will the ribs of your song endure it?
~Γιάννη Ρίτσου-ποιήματα/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη
~Yannis Ritsos-Poems/translated by Manolis Aligizakis


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Κυριακή. Γυαλίζουν τα κουμπιά στα σακκάκια
σα μικρά γέλια. Το λεωφορείο έφυγε.
Κάτι εύθυμες φωνές—παράξενο
να μπορείς ν’ ακούς και ν’ αποκρίνεσαι. Κάτω απ’ τα πεύκα
ένας εργάτης μαθαίνει φυσαρμόνικα. Μια γυναίκα
είπε σε κάποιον καλημέρα—μια τόσο απλή και φυσική
που θάθελες κ’ εσύ να μάθεις φυσαρμόνικα κάτω απ’ τα πεύκα.

Όχι διαίρεση ή αφαίρεση. Να μπορείς να κοιτάζεις
έξω από σένα — ζεστασιά και ησυχία. Να μην είσαι
“μονάχα εσύ”, μα “και εσύ”. Μια μικρή πρόσθεση,
μια μικρή πράξη της πρακτικής αριθμητικής, ευκολονόητη,
που κ’ ένα παιδί μπορεί να την πετύχει παίζοντας στο φως
τα δάχτυλά του
ή παίζοντας αυτή τη φυσαρμόνικα για ν’ ακούσει η γυναίκα.

Sunday. Buttons of coats shine
like small laughter. The bus is gone.
Some cheerful voices – strange
that you can hear and you can answer. Under the pine trees
a worker is trying to learn harmonica. A woman
said good morning to someone – so simple and natural good
that you too would like to learn to play harmonica under the pine trees.

Neither division nor subtraction. To be able to look outside
yourself – warmth and serenity. Not to be
‘just yourself ’ but ‘you too’. A small addition,
a small act of practical arithmetic easily understood
that even a child can successfully do by playing with his fingers
in the light
or playing this harmonica so the woman can hear it.
~Γιάννη Ρίτσου-ποιήματα/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη
~Yannis Ritsos-Poems/translated by Manolis Aligizakis