English poetry

Poems in English

Nyctivoe (extract)

Translated by Shorsha Sullivan (book includes DVD with audio performance directed by Piers Burton-Page, slide show of sculptures by Fritz Unegg, and video by Gudrun Bielz). Shoestring Press, March, 2005.

Nyctivoe, pages 1-5 .

Night had already fallen when I passed to the other side of the station and went out on to the road. It was still raining, a little. Along the bridge closed archways, I reached the dim light read the notice outside and entered behind two others. A large space in the half-darkness all around me, on the ground not above ten people, some of them with dogs. On the left the wall is demolished. Two more coming from there. Three. Opposite a blue lamp. On the right a green one. In front of the stage women in black, funny somehow, one younger. Three around a cut-down barrel. The other one is carrying newspapers, she puts them inside, sets them alight, the flame goes out. A man passes in front of them naked to the waist with a broken brick or stone? in his hand. Red marks. He digs, further on he raises two makeshift crosses. Fixes them, in the mud, beside two tumblers. Immediately in front, in the shallow trench, a car body without a door. On the bonnet a tape-recorder, on the wind-screen a sheet of tin. A woman is sitting inside. Long grey hair, lips painted red. She pulls forward a wooden cover. Now she can only be discerned through a gap. Other bits of iron around, old machine parts. Someone draws near into the light, haggard, torn pullover, a Bible in his hand, and inside it some papers. Chorus, Legion, Nyctivoe, Narrator. High on the opposite wall and to the right and above, crosses spray-painted on the cement. The lights are dimmed.

NARRATOR
And always, night
And day in the tombs
And in the mountains he was crying
And cutting himself with stones.
But when he saw Jesus afar
Off he ran
And worshipped him,
And cried with a loud voice,
And said; what have I to do with you, Jesus,
Son of the most high God?
I adjure thee by God,
That thou torment me not.
For he said unto him; come out thou
Unclean spirit from the
Man, and he asked him;
What is thy name? and he answered
Saying; my name is legion
For we are many.

CHORUS
If you stop and listen
In the night, heard in the
Dark if you hush it is heard
Behind those who close to
You speak come other
Voices, lost, that wake you
Have not forgotten you, you turn round to
Listen they embrace you
Those who were lost gather
Around you, they look at you they leave
Again you hear this hum always
At night and they come again
They take you they will cover themselves
With your skin they will speak to you
Under the earth.

NARRATOR
Accounting that He was able to raise them up
Even from the dead

LEGION
Bent over near the crosses,
Then face down
With such strokes better a little
Closer, moving
Inwards, like this; and when
The brain floods I remember
How I saw you last and still
As if I were hearing you and feeling that
I shall turn round and you will be there again.
But always turning round could not see
Would not believe and then again like footsteps
My life is recollection’s
Broad palm, it is
The scallop cracked beneath the sun
That shadow in it which I begin to bury
Where you whisper.
Yet the sea disinters. And there were coming
Moments when this shell was holding out no more
Had withered and I was feeling
Pockets filled with rubble and I
Underneath at a loss, and kept going
The seagulls were tangled at my feet
Were biting and I was falling
In the middle of the road.
Now the same noise again
As if it unravels inside
Like a fire under wood that’s breaking
This coughing within
Then every so often the cries
Once more on, the voice from
Their wings to fill me with fear
I am afraid of what the silence will bring.
Could anyone
Make out, between here
Something falling, like sea
Still to carry me to your side
The other voices to die out
They come then, if I sleep
Start of unbearable shadows.
And when I was awake again
New ghosts begin to rush on
Strangers had planted them around me,
You wouldn’t escape from these gallows
Voices would take me along to other
Dreams, and the people
Around me digging holes were sowing
Iron and light and searching for something
.
Then I saw I could no more
Could not bear them around me
Wandering to all the places
Struggling to stay somewhere a city
Passing brightly lit streets
Weeping.
But here where the dead are together,
I came back set up my home here,
And sit on the marble,
And seek a gentler
God, and in these visions,
To find a little more warmth
In them,
From where she stayed
Footsteps, your own voice.
From above noise of a train

CHORUS
Every night the dogs return
The sea-gulls come down along with them
He stretches by their side what voice
Will be heard a corner in his body
Beside me now on the slab which was his bed
He left the stones on it with hyssop leaves he sweeps it
clean
What lips to take a drop – he pours a little blood
A drop – he says for something that foams
In his flesh and he’s there again beside me
and I must stand below

A stake driven into the earth
Distant the memory of each
Moment when I stared into the sky
No, the god who soiled us does not await us
Decay will take us with it like an angel
Inside it all men take their ease
those whom I was mourning
Below there remained only
The death’s head of life.
Yet something moves up
In the ruins of a well
at the breast,
by those who stoop above me
Let me be held a little longer a little longer
To stay
together here
To such as he marked and those

Let me lean against the earth
my forehead and if
I should hear them again
mutter the
Words I used to hear from my own folk then

[…]
Translated by Shorsha Sullivan


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Poem Nyctivoe (extract) - Dimitris Lyacos