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SEFERIS, Giorgos


In the secret bay

white as a dove

we became thirsty at noon;

but the water was undrinkable.

Atop the blonde sand

We wrote her name;

How lovely did the wind blow

and it erased the writing.

With such heart, such spirit,

Such desires and such passion

we lived our lives; erroneously!

and then altered our ways.

In the sea caves

In the sea caves

there's a thirst there's a love

there's an ecstasy

all hard like shells

you can hold them in your palm.

In the sea caves

for whole days I gazed into your eyes

and I didn't know you nor did you know me.

The return of the exile

‘My old friend, what are you looking for?

After years abroad you’ve come back

with images you’ve nourished

under foreign skies

far from you own country.’

‘I’m looking for my old garden;

the trees come to my waist

and the hills resemble terraces

yet as a child

I used to play on the grass

under great shadows

and I would run for hours

breathless over the slopes.’

‘My old friend, rest,

you’ll get used to it little by little;

together we will climb

the paths you once knew,

we will sit together

under the plane trees’ dome.

They’ll come back to you little by little,

your garden and your slopes.’

‘I’m looking for my old house,

the tall windows

darkened by ivy;

I’m looking for the ancient column

known to sailors.

How can I get into this coop?

The roof comes to my shoulders

and however far I look

I see men on their knees

as though saying their prayers.’

‘My old friend, don’t you hear me?

You’ll get used to it little by little.

Your house is the one you see

and soon friends and relatives

will come knocking at the door

to welcome you back tenderly.’

‘Why is your voice so distant?

Raise your head a little

so that I understand you.

As you speak you grow

gradually smaller

as though you’re sinking into the ground.’

‘My old friend, stop a moment and think:

you’ll get used to it little by little.

Your nostalgia has created

a non-existent country, with laws

alien to earth and man.’

‘Now I can’t hear a sound.

My last friend has sunk.

Strange how from time to time

they level everything down.

Here a thousand scythe-bearing chariots go past

and mow everything down.’