Thursday, May 19, 2011

873. After the Treaty Between the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians Was Broken - Yannis Ritsos


Corinth, Argos, Sparta, Athens, Sicyon, and other (how many?)
     smaller cities—
the Greeks have become a thousand fragments; the great treaty has
      been broken;
everyone is enraged with everyone else—new meetings, meetings and
      more meetings, conferences;
yesterday’s friends and neighbors no longer greet each other in the
old grudges have come between them again; new alliances,
entirely opposite to earlier ones, are being sounded out, prepared.
arrive secretly at midnight; others leave. The statues of our heroes,
standing neglected in the city squares and gardens, are shat on by
Group after group in the agora discuss our situation seriously,
exaltedly, passionately: Who gave them their orders? Who appointed
We, anyway didn’t choose them (Besides, how? And when? New
      bosses again? Who needs them?) April has arrived;
the small pepper trees on the sidewalks have turned green— a gentle
tender, childlike (moving to us) even if
rather dusty—the municipal service seems to be out of it,
no longer showing up in the afternoon to sprinkle the streets. But
on the portico surrounding the closed Council Chambers, the first
      swallow appeared unexpectedly,
and everybody shouted: “A swallow; look, a swallow; look a 
everybody in unison, even the most violently opposed: “A swallow.”
      And suddenly
everybody fell silent, feeling alone, detached from the others, as
      though free,
as though united in continuity, within a communal isolation. And
they understood that their only freedom was their solitude, but that
(though imperceptible) unprotected, vulnerable, a thousand times
     entrapped, alone.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

872. Spring Azures - Mary Oliver

In spring the blue azures bow down
at the edges of shallow puddles
to drink the black rain water.
Then they rise and float away into the fields.

Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,
and all the tricks my body knows―
the opposable thumbs, the kneecaps,
and the mind clicking and clicking—

don’t seem enough to carry me through this world
and I think: how I would like

to have wings—
blue ones—
ribbons of flame.

How I would like to open them, and rise
from the black rain water.

And then I think of Blake, in the dirt and sweat of London—a boy
staring through the window, when God came
fluttering up.

Of course, he screamed,
and seeing the bobbin of God’s blue body
leaning on the sill,
and the thousand-faceted eyes.

Well, who knows.
Who knows what hung, fluttering, at the window
between him and the darkness.

Anyway, Blake the hosier’s son stood up
and turned away from the sooty sill and the dark city—
turned away forever
from the factories, the personal strivings,

to a life of the the imagination.