A tribute to Kostas Karyotakis

February 6th, 2018by Taf Taf

I liked literature,poetry, and history since I was a little boy.Even though I never went to a college or a university,I continued to read-that kept me going for a long time.I came across Karyotakis’ poetry when I was young-oddly enough,they taught us his poems at school-and I was immediately hooked.Karyotakis is one of the most famous and the most important Greek poets.He wrote about alienation,depression,melancholy,anxiety,pessimism,and death,amongst other things.He committed suicide in 1928.I found on the internet some of his poems translated into English and I would like to post some of them here.If you like poetry,I suggest you should look out for his work,especially if you like Yeats,Leopardi,Baudelaire,Rimbaud,Fitzgerald,Eliot,Byron,Verlaine,and Edgar Allan Poe. (If there are any copyright issues-I don’t think so-I would like the moderators of this site to inform me and I’ll take down this post.)

 

We are some disjointed guitars…

We are some disjointed guitars.
When the wind blows through
discordant lines and sounds awaken
in the chainlike strings that dangle.

We are some incredible antennae
rising like fingers into chaos,
on their tips the infinite resounds
but soon to crash all broken down.

We are some diffused senses,
with no hope to assemble.
In our nerves the whole of nature tangled.

In our body, in our memory tormented.
Repulsed by things and poetry
is the envied refuge.

 

Nostalgia

From the depth of good times
our loves greet us bitterly

You’re not in love, you say, and you don’t remember.
And if your heart has filled and you shed the tears
that you couldn’t shed like you did at first,
you’re not in love and you don’t remember, even though you cry.

Suddenly you’ll see two blue eyes
– how long it’s been! – that you caressed one night;
as though inside yourself you hear
an old unhappiness stirring and waking up.

These memories of time past
will begin their danse macabre;
and like then, your bitter tear will
well up on your eyelid and fall.

The eyes suspended – pale suns –
the light that thaws the frozen heart,
the dead loves that begin to stir,
the old sorrows that again ignite. . . .

 

Dummies

As if we never came in this land.
As if we still remain in inexistence.
Darkness around and nor a shimmer.
Men in the imagination of the others.

Created by paper and hesitation
dummies in the two blind hands of destiny,
we dance, we accept the deception,
lifelessly, looking passively at the stars.

Distant is for us every delight now.
Hope and youth abstract meanings.
Nobody else knows that we’re here
despite of him that steps over us while he passes.

So many years have passed, time has passed
and if the deep sorrow wasn’t in the body
and if our true pain wasn’t in the soul
telling that we still exist.

 

Imaginary suicides

They turn the key in the door, take out
their old, well-hidden letters,
read them quietly, then drag
their feet a final time.

Their life has been a tragedy, they say.
God! people’s frightful laughter,
and the tears, the sweat, nostalgia
of the skies, the landscape’s solitude.

They stand there by the window, gazing at
the trees, the children, all of nature,
at the marble-workers hammering away,
the sun that wants to set forever.

It’s over. Here’s the note —
appropriately short, profound, and simple,
full of indifference and forgiveness
for whoever’s going to weep and read it.

They look in the mirror, look at the time,
ask if it’s madness maybe, a mistake.
“It’s over now” they murmur;
deep down, of course, they’re going to put it off.

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