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Two modern Greek poets

February 7, 2011

translated by Dean Kostos

ΘΑΛΑΣΣΙΝΟ ΚΡΑΣΙ

Νίκος Αντωνάκος

I

Στούς κύκλους
Τών ματιών τά δάκρυα τσαμπιά
’Αποκρεμάδες

Νά πιείς
Θαλασσινό κρασί γιά σένα
Ξοδεμένο

II

Τροχίζει ό ήλιος ούρανό
Τή νύχτα
Οί σπίθες του θά γίνουν
’Αστρα

Κι έσύ στήν πέτρα
Νά μήν άποχωρίζεσαι
Τό ένδυμά σου
’Εκθρονισμένη
Χωρική
Θλιμμένη
Βεργινάδα

III

Κάτω άπ’ τό ψάθινο γέλιο
Της
Λούονταν καρυάτιδες

IV

Δούρειος
Στή φωνή της στήθκε
Ίππος ό λόγος

V

’Αμυλο τών σταχυών της
Έσύ
Νά καρτερείς τούς μύλους

VI

Στίς δήλες τών ματιών
Της τά
Δάκρυα λιοντάρια

Sea Wine

by Nikos Antonakos

I

In the circles
Of eyes bunches of tears
Dangle

To drink
Sea wine crushed
For you

II

The sun sharpens the sky
Night
Sparks become
Stars

And you in the stone
Don’t detach yourself
From your clothing
Dethroned
Peasant
Mourning
Daughter

III

Under her straw smile
Caryatids
Bathed themselves

IV

Trojan
The word hid inside her voice
Horse

V

In silent shafts of wheat
In flurries of flour
You anticipate mills

VI

In the sheen of her eyes
Tears
Of lions

* * *

ΣΤΟ ΦΕΓΓΑΡΙ

Κώστας Ταχτσής

Φεγγάρι μου
δέν έχω τίποτα έναντίον σου
πόσες φορές δέ σ’έκλεισα
σά νά ’σουνα πυγολαμπίδα
μέσ’ τή φούχτα μου
καί πώς δέ σέ τραγούδησα
σ’είπα λαμπρό
σού ’γραψα γράμματα
κι’ έφτασα στό σημείο νά σέ πώ
σελήνη

To The Moon

by Kostas Tachtses

My moon
I have nothing against you
how many times did I not enclose you
in my fist
as if you were a firefly
and how many times did I not sing you
I called you bright
wrote you letters
finally arriving at your name
selene

Translator’s note: This poem begins with the Demotic word for moon and concludes with the word in Katharevousa, which I have italicized. There is no equivalent in English.

* * *

ΑΓΑΠΗ

Κώστας Ταχτσής

Θά έξορύξω καί θά πιώ τά μάτια
γιά νά σέ δώ μέ τά δικά σου μάτια
όταν κοιτάζεσαι
μέσ’ τόν καθρέφτη γιά νά ξυριστείς

Love

by Kostas Tachtses

I will pluck out and drink your eyes
to seize you with your own
eyes when you’re looking
through your mirror to shave


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Nikos Antonakos was a filmmaker, poet, and journalist and a devoted member of the Greek Communist Party. He died of a heart attack two years ago while he was giving a speech about another Greek poet, the great Yannis Ritsos.

Kostas Tachtses’s only novel, To trito stefani (The Third Wedding, 1962) was a bestseller, and is still widely read. He was openly homosexual and a transvestite, and fought for gay rights and the rights of prostitutes. He was murdered in 1988.

Dean Kostos’s books include: Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends with a Comma, and Celestial Rust. He was the editor of Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry and the coeditor of Mama’s Boy: Gay Men Write about Their Mothers. His poems have appeared in Western Humanities Review, Boulevard, Southwest Review, Chelsea, Stand Magazine, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. He has taught at The City University of New York, The Gallatin School of New York University, Wesleyan, Columbia University’s School of Journalism, and elsewhere.

  1. February 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    “The sun sharpens the sky/ Night/ Sparks become/ Stars”, “Under her straw smile/ Caryatids/ Bathed themselves”, those take me home.
    And no other poem could tell us more about Tachtses’s passionate talent than “Love”. He lived like a flame and wrote like one too.
    Beautiful choice and work Dean Kostos.

  2. Alex
    February 7, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Yes, there is something quintessentially Aegean about these. Dave and Beth: A nice juxtaposition with the haiku-flavored Turkish poems from last Friday! Thank you for your perseverance in bringing us these beautiful translations, Dean. And thank you Maria, for putting us on track for getting permission for the Greek originals!

  3. Dean Kostos
    February 8, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Thanks, Maria (for the biographical info) and Alex (for encouraging my perseverance). Sevi Boutos, a friend of my mother’s who lives in Athens, wrote to the publishers in Athens for the permissions.

  1. February 9, 2011 at 12:20 am
  2. April 8, 2011 at 1:09 am
  3. May 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm
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