( - )

One evening, seeming drunk, he said in a strange voice:
“Often I hold the stars in hand by the ends of their beams
like the strings of uncounted kites,
feeling in all my nerves the echo of their every move,
their angle, their intensity, their distance
and that cold, clear elation at night’s highest levels,
the sharpness of the oxygen and the pulse of their tasselled rays”.

He said this much and stopped, as though holding the most important back.
Then in truth we noticed the star marks across his bare arm,
strange traces as from the random wanderings of a burning needle
something like triremes, numbers, mermaids,
and realised he must have been a prisoner for years
and was perhaps one still.
But we,
no, no, we never were his prison bars
and never guessed, in any case, which was his freedom.


Γιάννης Ρίτσος, «Αντιφάσεις», από τις Ασκήσεις
From Exercises, 1950-1964

John Stathatos (translator)
Original Author 
Yannis Ritsos