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The Poetry of Dinos Christianopoulos: A Selection

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Dinos Christianopoulos: A Selection

69

ITHACA

I do not know if consequences forced me to leave or because I needed to escape from myself from that narrow-minded Ithaca of little grace with its Christian organizations and its stifling morality. At any rate, this was not the solution, but only a half-measure. From then on I wallowed from street to street acquiring wounds and experience. The friends I once loved have now vanished and I have remained alone, fearful that someone may see me perhaps to whom I had once spoken of ideals ... Now I have returned with a final attempt to seem irreproachable, integral; I have returned and I am, dear God, like the prodigal who has forsaken his vagabond wanderings, embittered, and returns to his good-hearted father, to live in his bosom a private prodigality. I bring Poseidon within me, who always keeps me far off; but even if I could put into harbor, could Ithaca possibly find me the solution?

70

JOURNAL OF THE HELLENIC DIASPORA

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Dinos Christianopoulos: A Selection


REMORSE As days go by and the age of modesty slips away, I feel imperceptible crevices within me increasing from night to night: streets I took with lowered eyes, lights that fell upon me mercilessly, words more vulgar than the gestures but much more, my mother's face when I return late at night and find her waiting for me with a book in her hand, silent, sleepless, pale .. .

71

"ALMOND TREES" This place was once called "Almond Trees." I was in time to see them. The place was filled with fragrance. Periwinkles teemed, and a small river carried down dry chaff from the threshing floors. We used to come here at night for a body. One by one the almond trees were all cut down. One by one small houses sprouted in their place. We were the first to inaugurate them. Our love was given shape amid the scaffolding and the cement. Not even one almond tree has remained. The place has filled up with shops and apartment buildings. They gobbled down one more place for love in the country.

72

JOURNAL OF THE HELLENIC DIASPORA

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Dinos Christianopoulos: ASelection


MAKING LOVE IN THE FIELDS We'd better not go into the fields, I don't want to trample down the wheat stalks. Just for the sake of a small love nest a whole kilo of wheat will go to waste. Of course it's lovely to lie down amid the wheat stalks and the poppies; but just think of that poor farmer! Hasn't he had enough with insects and hailstorms, with middlemen, loans and taxes without our putting a spoke in his wheel too. We'd better go a bit further on.

73

THE SPLINTER The night they killed Lambrais I was returning from a date. "What's happened?" someone on the bus asked. No one knew. We saw policemen but could make out nothing more. Three years went by. Once more I fell into the same indifference about political matters. But that particular night disturbed me like an imperceptible splinter that won't come out: some clubbed down for their ideals, others roaring about on their tricycles, and I mindlessly running off to make love in the meadows.

74

JOURNAL OP THE HELLENIC DIASPORA

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Dinos Christianopoulos: A Selection


I FORSAKE POETRY* I forsake poetry does not mean I betray, does not mean I open a window to transactions. The preludes now have ended, the hour of the deluge has come; all those who are not sufficiently damned must at last fall silent, must seek to find new ways of growing weary in life. I forsake poetry does not mean I betray. Let them not accuse me of easy solutions, of not having dug deeply, of not having plunged the knife to my barest bones; but I too am a mere man, I have finally grown weary, how shall I put it is there anything more frightfully fatiguing than poetry? I forsake poetry does not mean I betray; one can find so many ways to nurse one's catastrophe.

75

*This poem was first published in The Charioteer No. 10 (1968). Since then, both poet and translator have changed many parts of it. This new rendition incorporates all changes made within the last decade.

76

JOURNAL OP THE HELLENIC DIASPORA

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Dittos Christianopoulos: A Selection


(from SMALL POEMS) the kiss unites much more than the body this is why most avoid it

77

a thirsty man does not ask if the water is brackish a hungry man does not become angry if you toss him a dry crumb and when an erection throbs in the brain prostitution is better than insanity.

*
my country, i stand ashamed before you you drain away bit by bit while i play my own fiddle but by keeping company with your lads i got to know you better and feel your pain

78

JOURNAL OF THE HELLENIC' DIASPORA

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Dinos Christianopoulos: A Selection


like the leftists do i love you my brothers both they and we are constantly persecuted they for breadwe for body they for freedomwe for love for a life without fear and derision like the leftists do i love you my brothers even though they persecute us too

79

tonight Main Street has once more worn me to a frazzle with its lack of trade, beauty no longer swarms in the town square something has changed the hustling in Athens has reached here too all who have not left for Germany come high the tariff has soared gone are the times when we cruised without a penny even playing hard to catch i must find another Main Street

if ever you bump into me as i wander with a suspicious air in parks or isolated places do not think ill of me do not say to yourselves "the hustler!" you can't possibly know how much i struggled before i gave in

80

JOURNAL OF THE HELLENIC DIASPORA

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Dinos Christianopoulos: A Selection


i go to kiss you but you turn away you won't entrust your lips to a cesspool only beneath your navel are you for sale

81

neither fornicators nor informers shall inherit the kingdom of God

my God it's dreadful of You to place me among the stoolpigeons

the sky above, the night below the navel between i am continually falling into night

i took you to repair me and you took me apart

82

JOURNAL OF THE HELLENIC DIASPORA

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Dinos Christianopoulos: ASelection


every time i think i have you in hand i see that love is not handwork

83

do not unbutton your flap the poem will fall to pieces

woe to that man by whom the offense cometh

so says the gospel and so say you


and if thine eye offend thee pluck it out

so says the gospel and so say i

the lambs have gone on strike they seek better slaughtering conditions

even the society of eunuchs is opposed to birth control


Translated by Kimon Friar