Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Orientations"—by Odysseas Elytes


The world reconciled itself to bitterness
Shooting-star lies left the lips
Night freed
From noise and care
Is transformed in us
And its new silence shines with revelation

We find our head in God's hands.

A prayer transfigures its heights
Time changes course
And leads us tripped of earthly concern
To other meanings

Where is the pulse of earth
The blood in the memory of our faces
The selfsame journey?

Decedents of perishable tears
Rowers of futile lakes
We left earth's skin
We fingered our words
In the tree's whispering
For the last time

Now stars neighbor our forehead!

Image oh! Immutable
You dress every hovering concept
Which brings our hope near

There the query that separates itself from us
You are everywhere You share
Our dark harps
Immaterial sheath.

Our eyes left but our souls went ahead
At their meeting in the heavens
A pure moment shone
Agonized trembling
An exact reflection of our innards

Higher up
Serenity is enthroned
In united solitude of her stars

Because we rid her of our bodies
Because we exhausted her with out hopes
Because we brought her our Idea as votive

She gives birth again to feelings.

Silence was analyzed in us
Her archangel touched our innermost beings
He rolled our memory into an uninhabited chaos
When we were granted an unbelievable riverbank

A riverbank of lightweight shadows
Once dreamy from tears
Golden marks looked at us
So much that we were detached from our weight
As we were detached from sin!

Imaginary glow
Cyan space
Soul's catharsis!
It is as if the earthly noise went missing
As if memory's malice stopped
Our clear new dream
An invisible hand pulls us by the hand

Where the innocent sky becomes Serenity
Where the soul is judged immutable.

[Translation by Jeffrey Carson and Nikos Sarris in "The collected poems of Odysseus Elytis" (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997)]


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