Odysseus Elytis


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.

To cite this section
MLA style: Odysseus Elytis – Poetry. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Tue. 23 Jul 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1979/elytis/poetry/>

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