The quiet middays of summer in western neighborhoods of Athens I


Yannis Ritsos
Childhood memory

Summer noon, the grownups were asleep.
A water bucket tipped off the steps onto the tiles of the corridor.
And then, beneath the corridor, at the very spot
that the bucket poured out, a cool storage room opened up
after being forgotten for years. Within were birds
taking refuge with tiny violins and tiny linen towels,
those starched linens of an old and sorrowful tidiness,
two broken chairs, a basket of grapes,
a pair of red sandals, a tall glass,
chalk, a school bell, and the tiny woodworker
that sawed the cicada's great stairway. Before long
a light breeze began to come from within
furrowing a trace of the sea and poetry's forehead
with that lame, neglected, and childish scowl.

from Small Dedications (1960-1965) [Collected Poems Delta' -- pg 140]
(translated by Scott King_

 Yannis Ritsos

Morning sleep, punctured by the voice of cicadas and birds.
Light fights its way into the room. The woman got up noiselessly,
closed the windows, just as he wished. "It's early.
You're still sleepy," she said to him and covered him with the sheet. The sea
climbed from his toenails up to his Adam's apple
with slow, blue, internal steps. And an instant later
the smoke of fields and the hooves of horses are heard in the street. 

from Small Dedications (1960-1965) [Collected Poems Delta' -- pg 143]
(translated by Scott King_

It's hard for me but I like walking alone during hot hours of noon. At these particular hours you hardly meet someone outside in these townsections. There is a strange feeling of silence everywhere except the loudness of greek light. Houses are like abandoned. Windows and doors are closed because of the high temperature. And finally the white colour is at its whitest point that you have ever seen. Also the midday summer dreams are brilliant, full of cicades, sweet watermelons, some whispers that are coming from the road and deep-deep shadows. This is a memory that I carry with me since my childhooh. For all grownups who they must be in work now, it is only a sweet daydream.

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