Nicolas Calas, Two poems in English

Narcissus 1934

Now when hope is directed towards the past

when the hour of decisions no longer shall return

the sea-ways the timbered roadways are setting on other horizons

it is to his own body that he returns

on the expanse of stagnant waters he keeps watch for

the image of a wrinkled shrivelled up and repulsive narcissus

the image that narcissus did not wish to give him

*Notebooks (1933-1936)


The Ruins of a City

Let us make down the subject of a crime

At noon let us invent stars on the horizon of a journey

Stars and a new ornament for hours with no tomorrow

Disembowelled ships raise anchor

Their blood is heavy with rust

Everything swims in vermin

A cat that can no longer cry eats them

From the top of the Tower of the Winds flames rise up

And down the light

The tower is tall ablaze and has broken loose from Earth

The Earth!

Who condemned it to live like a peeled orange

Or a blue grain of sand

Subject to the perpetual yoke of two equinoxes?

The insistent rhythm

The hideous expectation of eclipses is there

Wherever we go

Athens 1937-Marrakesh 1939.

*The French Poems (1937-1940)

**From the book “Oedipus is Innocent” – Selected poems by Nicolas Calas. Edited and translated by Lena Hoff. Smokestack Books, 2020.

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