Today's poem is by Guy Goffette, translated by Marilyn Hacker

Yannis Ritsos

The mountains, the houses, the trees
and the wide courtyard, empty and drowned

in sunlight. It would only take a name
uttered in a low voice: Helen or

Persephone, for the sea to emerge
from the fig tree's shadow, for the little cart

to come back, loaded
with seaweed and debris, behind

the mule with closed eyes. It would only take
a simple word for the hills to

depart, one by one, silently, like
Ulysses' rivals, and for the trees

astonished by the windows' conflagration
to turn to statues, while

in the midst of the flames grows the shadow
of a man at his table, indifferent

to the fire, and carving with an
old penknife on the blaze of sunlight

brought back from Yaros something no
god nor tyrant would ever

deny to the blind man, the widow,
the mother: luminous tears.

Copyright © 2004 Marilyn Hacker All rights reserved
from Chelsea
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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