ODYSSEY by NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS

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ODYSSEY A

And when in his wide courtyards Odysseus had cut down
the insolent youths, he hung on high his sated bow
and strode to the warm bath to cleanse his bloodstained body.
Two slaves prepared his bath, but when they saw their lord
they shrieked with terror, for his loins and belly steamed
and thick black blood dripped down from both his murderous palms
their copper jugs rolled clanging on the marble tiles.
The wandering man smiled gently in his horny beard
and with his eyebrows signed the frightened girls to go.

ΟΔΥΣΣΕΙΑ Α

Σαν πια ποθέρισε τους γαύρους νιους μες στις φαρδιές αυλές του,
το καταχόρταστο ανακρέμασε δοξάρι του ο Δυσσέας
και διάβη στο θερμό λουτρό, το μέγα του κορμί να πλύνει.
Δυο δούλες συγκερνούσαν το νερό, μα ως είδαν τον αφέντη
μπήξαν φωνή, γιατι η σγουρή κοιλιά και τα μεριά του αχνίζαν
και μαύρα στάζαν αίματα πηχτά κι από τις δυο του φούχτες
και κύλησαν στις πλάκες οι χαλκές λαγήνες τους βροντώντας.
Ο πολυπλάνητος γελάει πραγά μες στα στριφτά του γένια
και γνέφει παίζοντας τα φρύδια του στις κοπελλιές να φύγουν.
Το χλιο πολληώρα φραίνουνταν νερό κι οι φλέβες του ξαπλώναν
μες το κορμί σαν ποταμοί, και τα νεφρά του δροσερεύαν
κι ο μέγας νους μες στο νερό ξαστέρωνε κι αναπαυόταν.

~ODYSSEY, by NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS, translated by KIMON FRIAR

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883-1957
Nikos Kazantzakis was born in Heraklion, Crete, when the island was still under Ottoman rule. He studied law in Athens (1902-06) before moving to Paris to pursue postgraduate studies in philosophy (1907-09) under Henri Bergson. It was at this time that he developed a strong interest in Nietzsche and seriously took to writing. After returning to Greece, he continued to travel extensively, often as a newspaper correspondent. He was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Social Welfare (1919) and Minister without Portfolio (1945), and served as a literary advisor to UNESCO (1946). Among other distinctions, he was president of the Hellenic Literary Society, received the International Peace Award in Vienna in 1956 and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Kazantzakis regarded himself as a poet and in 1938 completed his magnum opus, The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, divided into 24 rhapsodies and consisting of a monumental 33,333 verses. He distinguished himself as a playwright (The Prometheus Trilogy, Kapodistrias, Kouros, Nicephorus Phocas, Constantine Palaeologus, Christopher Columbus, etc), travel writer (Spain, Italy, Egypt, Sinai, Japan-China, England, Russia, Jerusalem and Cyprus) and thinker (The Saviours of God, Symposium). He is, of course, best known for his novels Zorba the Greek (1946), The Greek Passion (1948), Freedom or Death (1950), The Last Temptation of Christ (1951) and his semi-autobiographical Report to Greco (1961). His works have been translated and published in over 50 countries and have been adapted for the theatre, the cinema, radio and television.

Tasos Livaditis-Selected Poems/Τάσου Λειβαδίτη Εκλεγμένα Ποιήματα

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ΤΟ ΑΓΓΙΓΜΑ

      Καθώς προχωρούσα στό διάδρομο, είδα μέ τρόμο, ότι η ρωγμή

στόν τοίχο είχε μεγαλώσει καί δέν τήν σκέπαζε πιά η πανοπλία πού

βάζαμε μπροστά, ετοίμασα λοιπόν, τά πράγματά μου, μά έπρεπε

πρώτα ν’ αποχαιρετίσω εκείνο τό γέρο, ερχόταν τίς νύχτες κρυφά

καί μάς διηγόταν τήν ατέλειωτη γλύκα αυτού τού μάταιου κόσμου,

      ώσπου, σιγά σιγά, ύστερα από τόση εγκατάλειψη σχεδόν πιά δέ

φαινόμουν, καί μόνο τά παλιά πορτρέτα μέ γνώριζαν, γιατί ήταν κι

εκείνα αθέλητα μέσα στόν κόμσο, όμως, τά βράδια, αυτό τό άγγιγ-

μα βέβαια φανταστικό, αλλά στό τέλος πάντα νικούσε, κι έστρεφα

τά μάτια μόλο πού δέν ήταν κανείς, «είστε εδώ;» ρώταγα — τί

άλλο μπορούσα νά κάνω.

TOUCH

As I walked in the hallway, in horror I saw that the crack

on the wall was bigger and the armour we placed before it

didn’t cover it anymore so I prepared my things, but first

I had to say goodbye to that old man who secretly came at night

and told us about the endless sweetness of this futile world,

     until, slowly after so much abandonment I was almost

invisible and only the old portraits recognized me because

they were also unwillingly in the world however at night

this touch, imaginary of course though at the end always

victorious and I turned my eyes although no-one was

around “are you here” I would ask—what else could

I do?

Translated by Manolis Aligizakis/Μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη