The Second Advent of Zeus-Review

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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.



The Second Advent of Zeus

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Με τρεμουλιαστά πόδια

ανέβηκα προς το ασβεστωμένο


παρεκκλήσι γελαστός διάκονος

με τα μάτια κολλημένα


στης νεαρής τουρίστριας

το μικροσκοπικό μαγιώ και στήθη


που πλούσια περίσευαν στο φως

προκλητικά στ’ ακόρεστα


τα μάτια του έγλυφαν καμπύλες

και ξανθά μαλλιά και την παράξενη


ομιλία και κατάλαβα πως τουρίστας

ήμουν και `γω στου ήλιου τη γενέτειρα


στο χώμα που `χασε την παρθενιά του

στο πρώτο του δολλαρίου άγγιγμα






With trembling legs

I climbed to the whitewashed chapel


smiling deacon had his eyes

glued onto the miniscule bathing suit


the exposed breasts of the young tourist


with the blonde hair and strange

accent provocative breasts


he licked with his eyes and

I understood tourist I also was


in this land that gave birth to the sun

this earth that lost its virginity


at the first touch of the dollar

The Second Advent of Zeus

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Κι ο άγγελός μου με βλαστήμησε

που το αρχαίο δράμα εγκατέλειψα

στη μοναξιά του καύσωνα


μα σαν σηκώθηκε απ’ του κενοταφίου

τη δροσιά με γνωμικά με δίδαξε


για το καθήκον και για δόξα

και για της χώρας το καλό

όρκοι που κάναμε κάτω απ’ το βαθύ


ίσκιο της βελανιδιάς και στο στεγνό

τραγούδι των Μουσών

πικρό της πείνας στόμα που θυμούμαι


κι η πανάρχαιη ενοχή της φυλής μου

πετάχτηκε σαν σηκωμένος φαλλός

από θαλάσσια σπηλιά εικόνα τρομερή


που μου `λεγε: φύγε, πήγαινε εκεί

απ’ όπου ήρθες, στο χώμα τούτο

οι ρίζες σου ποτέ δεν θ’απλωθούν






And my angel cursed me

for I left the ancient drama

to the loneliness of the heat


but when he rose from the fresh

cenotaph with old wise sayings

that spoke of duty and glory


and of the country’s good

original oath we took

under the thick shade of the oak tree


long song of the Muses and the mouth

of hunger I remember well

and the ancient guilt of my race


sprang up like erected phallous

from the sea-cave, horrible image

saying to me: go


return to the place you’ve come

say in this land

your roots will never spread

The Second Advent of Zeus

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Στάθηκα στον καυτερό ήλιο

που δεν διακρίνει ξένους απ΄τους δικούς

και περίμενα απ’ τον Ερμή μου

ένα σημάδι και φεγγάρια περάσαν


κι ηλιοβασιλέματα με στεναγμούς

που σημάδι ποτέ δεν έλαβα

και μ’ έκαιγε η αναμονή να με συστήσει

σε Όμηρο και Πυθαγόρα που με ποιημάτων


στροφές και διαλογικές εναρμονίσεις

σφιχτά θα με αγκάλιαζαν

σιμά στο παρεκκλήσι και στη Σαπφώ


που μου υποσχόταν στήθη παρθενικά

προσμονή που με κράτησε σ’ εγρήγορση

ώσπου μια Κυριακή του Πάσχα


το Χριστός Ανέστη διαπέρασε τ’ αυτιά μου

κι ο Ερμής εμφανίστηκε με πλήρη

αρματωσιά και λαμπερά εμβλήματα


κι η αναμφίβολη διαφάνειά μου

την αφομοίωσή μου κήρυξε

σ’ αγάλματα και στο προαιώνιο σπέρμα





I stood in the sweltering sun

that couldn’t tell apart a kin from a foe

and I waited a sign from Hermes


moons went by and sunsets

with sighs and his smile

remained hidden and I was burning


in my yearning to be introduced to Homer

and Pythagoras who with poetic

verse and meditative concepts would

embrace me by the lonely chapel


and to Sappho who promised me

virginal breasts and my yearning kept

my awareness agile for many years


until an Easter Sunday the Christ is Risen

pierced my eardrums when finally

Hermes appeared in his war attire


and with shiny epaulets and my unquestionable

diaphaneity declared my assimilation

with statues and with the primeval sperm


THE SECOND ADVENT OF ZEUS, Ekstasis Ediions, 2016