Glowing, festive, warm, the moon looked down
            over the vineyards
while the sun still scorched the bushes, setting
            in total stillness.

The heavy grass up on the windless height sweated
            its pungent sap,
and among the new-leaved vines that climbed
            the terraced slope

the buntings fluttered and called, the robins
            hovered on the banks,
and the heat spread a fine filmy veil across
            the moon’s face.

On the path between the wheat fields three oxen,
            one behind the other,
ascended the mountain slope, their pendant
            dewlaps swaying.

The slender hound, his muzzle to the earth
            in the quiet evening,
leaped from rock to rock, searching
            for my tracks.

And at the house ahead, beneath the unripe vine,
            a ready table
waited for me, a lamp hung out in front of it —
            the evening star.

Then the master’s daughter brought me honeycomb,
            cold water, country bread;
her strength had engraved around her rock-like throat
            a circle like a dove’s ring;

and her look, like the evening light, disclosed virginity’s
            lucid flame,
and through the tight dress that covered her virginal breasts
            the nipples stood out boldly.

Her hair was plaited in two braids
            above her forehead —
braids like the cables of a ship, too thick
            for my hand’s grip.

The dog, exhausted now from the steep footpaths,
            stood there panting,
and, motionless, stared into my eyes,
            waiting for a crust.

There, as I heard the nightingale and ate fruit
            from the dish in front of me,
I had the taste of wheat, of song and honey
            deep on the palate.

As in a glass hive my soul moved inside me,
            a joyful bee-swarm
that, secretly increasing, seeks to release into the trees
            its grapelike cluster.

And I felt the earth was crystal beneath my feet,
            the soil transparent,
for the strong and peaceful bodies of ancient plane trees
            rose up around me.

There the old wine was opened for me, smelling rich
            in the oaken jar,
as mountain scents when the cool night dew falls
            on the bushes.

Glowing, festive, warm, there my heart consented
            to repose for a while
in sheets made fragrant by herbs, azure
            by washing blue.

–Angelos Sikelianos, trans. Keeley and Sherrard


One Response to “Thalero”

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