I was born in the middle,
wasn't in time to die at the end.
It has given rise to itself,
has given rise to the husband,
has given rise to the son,
has given rise to an image of life,
but not through relations with Zeus.
If born, I am in debt
to Existence, as to others,
which has given rise to itself,
as to others. Otherwise
why do I and Existence exist?
Existence is full of inquisitive people:
if you sit, they sit beside you,
if you stand, they approach,
if you run, they run along.
Thus my existence, at times,
prevents my writing verse.
The blind man sees himself
by the dark side of the moon,
his sight reverts to his soul.
And the bird in the tree
sings a song, a song without end.
To the lilac has come
a bird with a cherry,
and it mates on a jasmine.
The blind man touches blossoms
as if to play a harp.
Their light squeezes a sea of tears
from his eyes.
Two days later
I cannot find myself.
I'm present nowhere,
not in life, not on paper.
I sit at table more silent
than the silence under it.
Then my shadow rises
and moves to the street.
One has to go somewhere,
though maybe better to lie
on a wave of beds.
My blood is light blue,
my mother and father is the sea.
I hardly walk, hardly sit.
During dreams I weep.
I lived through eight waves
and the ninth assailed me,
beat me on the rocks,
drowned me in the abyss.
I came up foamed over,
twinkling stars on my head.
Salty I have dried my life
on sand and shingle.
Then I awoke gray-headed.
I'd become the sea.
I fall, I rise.
I have been flung against my stony heart
and all my coasts and dams and breakwaters.
It has abated.
I am in silence.
Four days later
Ruins are always
in fine speaking form, so –
When Charon made holes in his boat
to become captain on a long voyage,
I was nine years old, only nine,
the very number of days required
to exile me from the sea,
to another wet residence
of snow, rain, -- of blood.
Thus I have seen my very blood of sea blue.
I have learned in the dead languages of the poets
everything about varieties of exile.
Thirty years I passed in one,
ten in another,
for the sea-blue blood of freedom,
for my dead language,
for devotion to great and minor prophets.
In the black crypt of Malachi
high on the Mount of Olives
I saw a bird flash as white lightning,
a particle of the light
of the Sun of Truth.
Two weeks later
Do you know? I shall tell.
Do you know? I shall tell you.
Do you not know?
Many times I shall tell you,
feeling anything, nothing.
The wind broke its wings
and fell into the sea.
The sea fell on the coast,
and all wide rolled out by vowels:
waves away in A,
tide plied in I,
dunes sunk in U.
Wind and sea overcame the vineyard
and smashed the grapes
like greedy foxes.
Locusts flew over, pleased,
leaving me with only one colour.
Where is the wind? I don't know.
Where is the sea? I don't know.
Where is vineyard? I don't know.
On an empty coast
behind a Caucasian settlement
sat a moss-covered Greek god,
stinking seaweed dried in his beard,
his trident lying by.
I passed on my way
to dissolve my dress in the sea.
Mermaids supplied the soap,
laughing so loudly that the water become deaf.
They washed a sea-star on to my leg.
I was ashamed to look back
toward the slovenly old god.
I crept away with lowered eyes,
as have old rains and snows,
as rain and snow am I.
In a dream I flew to the sea
and woke up weeping.
I'd read something written inside my eyelid.
What? I do not know.
Just a week later
In summer winter is wanted;
in winter, summer.
So man is made, so the world.
While the senses live we await miracles.
When we cease expecting, death comes up behind.
-- A fine way to outdistance death!
Long for summer instead of this blizzard.
Fragments of wind I've brought home
and sat down to stick together,
impulses, by my bitter saliva.
I will cry, and then the flood
will drip from the ceiling.
I'll bring out the zinc pan
in which I passed my infancy.
I'll sit sticking together
splinters of time with dark blue tears,
licking all the cracks,
because time is already old.
Really it's not time at all,
but some unnecessary organ
which the surgeon is just about to cut off.
Well, no more time.
A month later
Others see, others know.
I never have a thing to say.
I simply sing, looking out the window,
simply floating out to sea.
I simply run and simply live.
Prestige is too heavy – unwanted.
It weighs -- ….
All our lives we are weighed.
In whom are there more atoms and molecules?
In whom are there more feelings?
Let there be fewer in me,
for I'll not be the appraiser,
who always suffers reshuffles
of his own, in punishment
for trespasses into what isn't.
I don't want to know what others know.
God is my God,
a man is a man,
the sea is the sea.
If the Dead Sea is dead,
it is dead forever,
poisoned by Sodom and Gomorra.
Some call it a lunar landscape;
I do not describe it.
It is better to run without stopping
up to the Sea of Galilee.
Apostolic fisherman stand
by this living pool of heavenly tears
and net our souls.
I swim in sins but
am fished out forgiven.
Submerged I weigh little but
redeemed receive full value,
such value as is beyond weighing.
I found poetry on that coast,
and as one plucks seashells
made prostrations for those lines.
Butterflies alighted on my back,
roses fell from heaven, all those who sang
on the gramophones of my childhood,
of roses red and white.
At last I received, there,
my past in lyrics.
And in swimming with translucent fish,
have I become translucent to the Light?
The ship of life steams
pompous, as if able
to fill all life with ships.
Some event may steam through life just so.
You wave to someone
remaining on the shore;
and now you wave with both hands:
'You will not forget me?'
Better to be the philosopher
and not to ask such things.
Let the sea do your thinking and speaking,
as it has done
for someone who died long ago.
The light – don't switch it off;
the door – don't close it.
Do not leave me alone.
I tell you!
Look at me!
Do not leave me alone.
Stay near, otherwise
we don't exist,
shiploads of philosophers
This very day
Planted in the earth,
what fruits will I produce?
If none, my death indeed is death.
But my son waited all night
before he broke the pomegranate,
and it was full of ants.
Never again did he break sacred fruit.
He learned that fruit decays.
On his way to school
he had to pass three check-points:
'Against the wall. Hands up. Shut up!'
They tore up his rucksack
and the books of history and religion.
My son learned there are no rights
except the rights of laboratory rats,
on which Darwinists carry out tests
of how much hatred and deceit
can be endured.
They don't know about
the survival of the weakest.
In the morning the snow has fallen
and the cherry trees are broken.
The Black Sea is white.
Just a month later
Go, catch the wind,
stop the waves.
You are sinking, sinking,
and will be washed ashore
with lost treasures and debris,
with seaweed and the surf's whole catalogue
-- of all these you are the deadest.
You think you'd best be floating
off some other coast.
But there too are only
flotsam of sticks, shoes, the used condom,
cans, a long-empty bottle, noteless.
Who will write of what to whom?
I am sinking, sinking,
my breath full of the sea.
A friend once fished me from the depths,
my tresses bound my hands.
'You are,' said he, 'no mermaid,'
and he became my only love.
And I had burst across horizons,
breaking tapes of victory.
And I had floated farthest,
round all the seas that are.
No land flowed with milk and honey;
I found only seashells.
There they lay, pale, ordinary,
dusty – dust on seashells!
And in their washing, smells of sea,
and at the ear, rustles of freedom.
Ah, but let us try
to stop the waves and catch the wind.
How I yearn for salty air,
sniffing the skies for better than manna.
I dream and long for the sea.
In my notebook I collect the waves
that one day will flood the earth.
In my fist I compress the winds
that will destroy it all.
In 1969 surrealism fell,
and its dreams, though we dream on,
and its wonders, though miracles happen still,
and its love, though all of us are still in love.
Translated by Frederick Smock