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.