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 street— old grudges have come between them again; new alliances, entirely opposite to earlier ones, are being sounded out, prepared. Deputations arrive secretly at midnight; others leave. The statues of our heroes, standing neglected in the city squares and gardens, are shat on by sparrows. Group after group in the agora discuss our situation seriously, exaltedly, passionately: Who gave them their orders? Who appointed them? 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 green, 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 today, on the portico surrounding the closed Council Chambers, the first swallow appeared unexpectedly, and everybody shouted: “A swallow; look, a swallow; look a swallow”— 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 then they understood that their only freedom was their solitude, but that too (though imperceptible) unprotected, vulnerable, a thousand times entrapped, alone.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
873. After the Treaty Between the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians Was Broken - Yannis Ritsos