I weep over the body of a sleeping child for I feel I will betray him before a new day dawns. Let my confession Be written for the first time With its true name Confession And not an attempt at poetry Since that’s how it must be I must hurt even more Once I could protect myself Now I call it solitude Related to this, I’ll add to my memories that I once had a dog.I thought there could be nothing better than to be a dog. Theway you hit them and they submit.It’s been a long time since then. As for what I’ve left Today For you to understand It wasn’t from love It was because One can drown in the forest And I only wanted To find a way out (Pause for deep breath) This poem Is my last revolutionary act Before I obey The advice of foreigners. January–February 1952
Copyright © 2018 by Eleni Vakalo
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Eleni Vakalo (1921-2001) was a Greek poet, art critic, and art historian. Vakalo published fourteen books of poetry, nine volumes of art history and art theory, had regular columns and produced a radio broadcast, both of art criticism. She received the State Poetry Prize in 1991, and the prestigious Academy of Athens Prize in 1997.
Karen Emmerich is an Assistant Professor at Princeton University. A translator of eleven Modern Greek books, her co-translation of Yannis Ritsos’s Diaries of Exile was awarded the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and her translation of Poems (1945-1971) by Miltos Sachtouris was a finalist for National Book Critics Circle award.
Before Lyricism includes six book-length poems written in the 1950s and 1960s. For Vakalo, these poems formed a larger, accretive whole. Before Lyricism allows us to see the complex web of intertextual relations that bind these poems together. Meanwhile, by bringing them into English, this volume will enrich not only our knowledge of this key period in Vakalo’s career, but English-language readers’ understanding of modern Greek poetry as a whole.
"Its celebration of mysteries should excite readers who know little of Vakalo's reputation"
"... one of the most important books of poetry ever to be written in the modern Greek language … anti-lyrical but dramatically human ... limits the imagination to the infinite dimensions of the real and excites logic as far as fantasy will take it."
— Nora Anagnostaki