Lives

Kostas Karyotakis
And so they go and die the same way they live.

I speak of lives given to the light
of serene love, and while they flow
like streams, they keep that light inside
eternally inseparable, just as
the sky glints in rivers,
just as suns flow through the skies.
I speak of lives given to the light. . .

I speak of brief lives draping
a woman’s rubied lips, just as
votive offerings, silver hearts, are draped
on the icon-screen up front.
These lives on a woman’s beloved lips
are likewise humble and true.
I speak of brief lives draping. . .

No one mistrusts them.
Just as – quiet and dark
and foreign and sad – they follow
the footstep, the idea of a lithe woman
(and she isn’t mistrusted), so they
will droop toward the earth, will fade quietly.
No one mistrusts them. . .

They moved uncertainly – faint
as stars at the hour of dawn –
through the thought of a passing woman
who, so she could keep going happily,
didn’t notice the lives which fade slowly
like the soul of a morning lamp.
They moved uncertainly – faint. . .

Κώστας Καρυωτάκης
30 October 1896 – 20 July 1928

translation via

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