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 Media AB 2020. Sun. 9 Aug 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1979/elytis/poetry/>

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