Translation from the Greek text
 by Manolis Aligizakis

Someone had a lot of dead people
He dug the ground he buried them himself
Stone by stone earth on earth
he built a hill
On top of the hill
he built his cabin facing the sun

After that he opened pathways
he planted trees
carefully geometrically thoughtfully
His eye was always smiling
His hand wasn’t trembling
The hill

There on Sunday afternoons mothers climb
pushing their baby carriages
the workers of the neighborhood in clean shirts
go there to sunbathe and breath some fresh air
There at twilight pairs in love saunter
and learn to read the stars
Under the trees a child plays harmonica
The pop vendor yells about his lemonade

On the hill they all know
that they are closer to the sky

But no one knows how the hill was built
no one knows how many sleep in the hills’ bowels

~Yannis Ritsos-Poems
Translation by Manolis Aligizakis
Vancouver, Canada

Series - Σειρά

  1. "Όνειρο Καλοκαιρινού Μεσημεριού" (August 21, 2015)
    Είμαστε τελικά πολύ ρομαντικοί, και το χειρότερο αδιόρθωτοι με την τέχνη. Μπορεί να σπαταλούμε ώρες, μέρες, μήνες και χρόνια σ' ένα μας καπρίτσιο κατασκευής ενός δημιουργήματος με απώτερο σκοπό να το δούμε κάποια στιγμή ολοκληρωμένο
  2. Solidarity (October 15, 2013)
    The wind converses with the windows like those who are going to separate. The furniture becomes like the poor girls who gather fallen olives. The evening walks under the olive trees all alone and the field with harvested wheat is a denial. The shed husk of the cicada resembles a small bell-tower fallen on dry grass.
  3. Winter Approaches (September 14, 2013)
    With each tick of the clock a yellow leaf falls. You had a straw hat with lilac flowers. Now in there, chickens lay eggs and a snail climbs on the leg of the chair.
  4. Floating in air (September 9, 2013)
    With the first cold spells, the trees leave stooping in the wind. In the evening, the sky becomes a large closed glass door. In there, many have gathered talking in low tones and smoking, because we see, behind the steamed glass
  5. Fear of Life (September 5, 2013)
    Stony day stony sun stony silence. The horses died on the mountain the trees died in whitewash you didn’t die.
  6. Healing (August 30, 2013)
    Years of sky. Τhe street and the sundown. Τhe white houses are serene like the memory that doesn’t feel sorry for you anymore. Two poplars vanished in the dusk two poplars two poplars.
  7. Hour of Song (August 27, 2013)
    Hour of Song Next to the wine jugs next to the fruit baskets we forgot to sing. On the evening of our separation
  8. The Sin (August 21, 2013)
    They left, they left – he said. They stayed – he said in a while. They stayed. They exist. Gullible days, wasted. And there were a few trees. The roofs leaned their shoulders more impressively. George, on top of the ladder, was fixing the plaster festoon of the neoclassical house. Further down in the harbor the longshoremen were creating a havoc. They carried large wooden boxes tied with ropes. Two dogs walked edge to edge in the street.
  9. Hunger (July 25, 2013)
    The night passed its mouth stuffed by speechless water. At daybreak the sun shone wet on the coiled cables. Faces – shadows, masts – shadows, voyages – perhaps saw them, perhaps not – our hunger was never satisfied.
  10. A Face (July 22, 2013)
    It is a bright face, silent, all alone like the entire loneliness, like complete victory over loneliness. This face looks at you between two columns of still water
  11. Summer (July 20, 2013)
    The four windows hang rhyming quatrains made of sky and sea inside the rooms A lonely daisy is a small wristwatch on the arm of summer showing twelve at noon. Thus you feel your hair entangled in the hands of the sun
  12. Nude (May 26, 2013)
    Here, in the untidiness of the room, between the dusty books and the old people’s portraits, between the yes and the no of so many shadows, one band of motionless light here, in this position where you undressed one night.
  13. Summer in the City (May 24, 2013)
    In this place the light is beyond hope. This heartless month doesn’t allow us not to be two. You are not enough. The monotonous clank, the streetcars turning the corner the marble-masons cutting stones in high noon. Above the fence-wall you could see the conventional funerary stele marble flowers marble ribbons the bust of a banker the face of a child shadowed by the wing of an angel.
  14. The Street That Was Not Named “Pasolini Street” (April 19, 2013)
    Wide morning in Rome that widens the consonant l amid the vendors yelling, the tires of buses and the statues’ silence. Ocher shadowed in the eastern facades of stores and buildings. Doors and doors uphold the semicircles of shadows at one time. Strange – he said –
  15. Vatican Museum (April 10, 2013)
    da Vinci Raphael Michelangelo, – how they incised the greatest skies in the human face, in the human body toenails and fingernails, leaves and stars, nipples, dreams, lips, – to red and the light blue the tangible and the inconceivable. Perhaps from touching of these two fingers the world was reborn. The space between these two fingers still measures accurately the earth’s pull and duration.
  16. The Hill (April 18, 2012)
    Someone had a lot of dead people He dug the ground he buried them himself Stone by stone earth on earth he built a hill On top of the hill he built his cabin facing the sun
  17. Ο Λόφος (April 18, 2012)
    Κάποιος είχε πολλούς πεθαμένους. Έσκαβε το χώμα, τούς έθαβε μόνος του. Πέτρα τήν πέτρα, χώμα τό χώμα έφτιαξε ένα λόφο. Πάνου στό λόφο έφτιαξε τήν προσηλιακή καλύβα του.
  18. Yannis Ritsos Poems (June 2, 2011)
    A careful hand is needed to translate the poems of Yannis Ritsos, and Manolis is the ideal poet to undertake such an enormous task. Born in Crete, Manolis’s youth was intermingled with the poetry of Ritsos. Once a young man moved by the Theodorakis version of Epitaphios, he’s now a successful poet in his own right who is still moved to tears hearing the refrains of those notes from half a century ago.

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