THE KNIGHT AND DEATH (1513)

Nikos Gatsos

Just so, I see you motionless
traveling through the years with the horse of Akritas and the lance of Ai-Giorgi
I would put beside you
with the dark shapes that stand eternally beside you
until a place where you are extinguished eternally with them
until you become a fire in the great Chance where you were born
I would put beside you
an orange from the snow-covered fields of the moon
I would unfold for you the veil of an evening
with red Antares singing of the young men
with the River of Sky overflowing into August
to weep with the North Star and freeze
I would spread out meadows
waters that never watered the lilies of Germany
and I would ornament the iron you wear
with a sprig of basil and a handful of mint
with the arms of Plapoutas and the sword of Nikitaras
But I, who saw your descendants like birds
split open on a spring day the sky of my country
and I saw the cypress trees of the Morea stop breathing
there on the fields of Nauplion
before the waiting embrace of the wounded sea
where the eons wrestled with the crosses of gallantry
I would place now beside you
the bitter eyes of a youth
and the closed eyelids
in the mud and the blood of Holland.

This dark land
will someday become green again
The iron hand of Götz will overturn the caissons
It will mound them with sheaves of barley and rye
And in the dark oaks with the dead loves
there where time turned a young leaf to stone
in the breasts where trembled a tear-stained rose
a star will shine silent as a spring daisy

But you will remain motionless
with the horse of Akritas and the lance of Ai-Georgi you will travel through the years
a restless hunter from the race of heroes
with those dark shapes that stand eternally beside you
until a day when you will vanish eternally with them
until you become again a fire in the great Chance where you were born
until in the caves of the river
the heavy hammers of patience resound again
not for ornaments and swords
but for pruning hooks and plows.

 

© Diana Gilliland Wright, September 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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