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Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1979
Odysseus Elytis

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Poetry

 

Excerpt from The Axion Esti

 

From The Gloria

/- - -/
  PRAISED BE Myrto standing
on the stone parapet facing the sea
  like a beautiful eight or a clay pitcher
holding a straw hat in her hand
   
  The white and porous middle of day
the down of sleep lightly ascending
  the faded gold inside the arcades
and the red horse breaking free
   
  Hera of the tree's ancient trunk
the vast laurel grove, the light-devouring
  a house like an anchor down in the depths
and Kyra-Penelope twisting her spindle
   
  The straits for birds from the opposite shore
a citron from which the sky spilled out
  the blue hearing half under the sea
the long-shadowed whispering of nymphs and maples
   
  PRAISED BE, on the remembrance day
of the holy martyrs Cyricus and Julitta,
  a miracle burning threshing floors in the heavens
priests and birds chanting the Aye:
   
  HAIL Girl Burning and hail Girl Verdant
Hail Girl Unrepenting, with the prow's sword
   
  Hail you who walk and the footprints vanish
Hail you who wake and the miracles are born
   
  Hail O Wild One of the depths' paradise
Hail O Holy One of the islands' wilderness
   
  Hail Mother of Dreams, Girl of the Open Seas
Hail O Anchor-bearer, Girl of the Five Stars
   
  Hail you of the flowing hair, gilding the wind
Hail you of the lovely voice, tamer of demons
   
  Hail you who ordain the Monthly Ritual of the Gardens
Hail you who fasten the Serpent's belt of stars
   
  Hail O Girl of the just and modest sword
Hail O Girl prophetic and daedalic

 

Excerpt from The Axion Esti, by Odysseus Elytis, translated by Edmund Keeley and George Savidis, © 1974.
Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Excerpt selected by the Nobel Library of the Swedish Academy.

 

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