Ἑλληνικὴ Ποίηση

Διάφορα ποιήματα ἀπὸ τὸ 350 ὡς τὸ 1900.

Greek Poetry

Various Greek poems from 350 to 1900

1. «Στὴν Ἐκκλησία» (Κ. Π. Καβάφης)

Τὴν ἐκκλησίαν ἀγαπῶ – τὰ ἑξαπτέρυγά της,
τ᾿ ἀσήµια τῶν σκευῶν, τὰ κηροπήγιά της,
τὰ φῶτα, τὲς εἰκόνες της, τὸν ἄµβωνά της.
Ἐκεῖ σάν µπῶ, µές σ᾿ ἐκκλησία τῶν Γραικῶν,
µὲ τῶν θυµιαµάτων της τὲς εὐωδίες,
µὲ τὲς λειτουργικὲς φωνὲς καὶ συµφωνίες,
τὲς µεγαλοπρεπεῖς τῶν ἱερέων παρουσίες
καὶ κάθε των κινήσεως τὸν σοβαρὸ ῥυθµὸ –
λαµπρότατοι µὲς στῶν ἀµφίων τὸν στολισµὸ –
Ὁ νοῦς µου πιαίνει σὲ τιµὲς µεγάλες τῆς φυλῆς µας,
στον ἔνδοξό µας Βυζαντινισµό.

«In Church» by C. P. Cavafy

I love the church – its hexapteriga,
the silver of its sacred vessels, its candlesticks,
the lights, its icons, its pulpit.
When I enter a church of the Greeks,
with its fragrances of incense,
with its voices and liturgical choirs,
the stately presence of its priests
and the solemn rhythm of each of their movements –
most resplendent in the adornment of their vestments
my mind goes to the high honors of our race,
to the glory of our Byzantine tradition.

2. «Ἑλλάς ἐµή...» Γρηγόριος Θεολόγος

Ἑλλὰς ἐµή, νεότης τε φίλη, καὶ ὅσσα πεπάσµην,
καὶ δέµας, ὡς Χριστῷ εἴξατε προφρονέως.
Εἰ δ᾿ ἱερήα φίλον µε θεῶ θέτο µητέρος εὐχὴ
καὶ πατρὸς παλάµη, τὶς φθόνος; Ἀλλά, µάκαρ,
σοῖς µε, Χριστέ, χοροίσι δέχου, καὶ κῦδος ὀπάζοις
υἱέϊ Γρηγορίου σῷ λάτρι Γρηγορίῳ.

«On Himself» by Gregory of Nazianzus

O my Greece, my youth, and all I possess,
my body, how gladly you gave way to Christ!
Who would bear a grudge if my mother’s wish
and my father’s hand made me a priest, beloved of God? And may you,
blessed Christ, receive me in your choirs, and grant glory
to your servant Gregory, the son of Gregory.

3. «Εὑρῆκε τὴν δαµαλίδα...», Ἀνωνύμου

Εὑρῆκε τὴν δαµαλίδα ἁπαλὴν καὶ τρυφεράν,
καὶ ὡς τὸ καινὸν ἀλεκτόριν οὕτως αὐτὴν πεπήδηκεν.
Καὶ ἐποίησε παιδία ὡς τὰ ξυλοκούκουδα.
Καὶ οὐδεὶς τολµᾶ λαλῆσαι: ἀλλ᾿ ὅλους ἐφιµωσεν.
Ἅγιε µου, ἅγιε, φοβερὲ καὶ δυνατέ,
δὸς αὐτῷ κατὰ κρανίου, ἵνα µὴ ὑπεραίρηται:
κἀγώ σοι τὸν βοῦν τὸν µέγαν προσαγάγω εἰς εὐχήν.

«When he found a heifer...», Anonymous

When he found a heifer sweety, tender and so delicate,
Then at once he pounced upon her, like she was a fresh new hen.
After that he procreated, as a yeoman planes a board.
No one dared to speak against him, after he had shushed us all.
Holy Lord, my Holy Lord, terrible and powerful,
Lest he thinks he’s something special, give him one upside the head;
Then I will, I swear it, Master, give to you a bull instead.

4. «Ἡ ἐν πολλαῖς ἀµαρτίαις», Κασσιανῆς μοναχῆς

Κύριε, ἡ ἐν πολλαῖς ἀµαρτίαις περιπεσοῦσα γυνή,
τὴν σὴν αἰσθοµένη θεότητα,
µυροφόρου ἀναλαβοῦσα τάξιν,
ὀδυροµένη µύρον σοι πρὸ τοῦ ἐνταφιασµοῦ κοµίζει
οἴµοι! Λέγουσα, ὅτι νὺξ μοι ὑπάρχει,
οἶστρος ἀκολασίας ζοφώδης τε καὶ ἀσέληνος,
ἔρως τῆς ἀµαρτίας
δέξαι µου τὰς πηγὰς τῶν δακρύων
Ὁ νεφέλαις διεξάγων τῆς θαλάσσης τὸ ὕδωρ
κάµφθητί µοι πρὸς τοὺς στεναγµοὺς τῆς καρδίας
Ὁ κλίνας τοὺς οὐρανοὺς τῇ ἀφράστῳ σου κενώσει
καταφιλήσω τοὺς ἀχράντους σου πόδας,
ἀποσµήξω τούτους δὲ πάλιν
τοῖς τῆς κεφαλῆς µου βοστρύχοις
ὧν ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ Εὔα τὸ δειλινὸν
κρότον τοῖς ὠσὶν ἠχηθεῖσα τῷ φόβῳ ἐκρύβη
ἁµαρτιῶν µου τὰ πλήθη καὶ κριµάτων σου ἀβύσσους
τὶς ἐξιχνιάσει, ψυχοσώστα σωτήρ µου;
Μή µε τὴν σὴν δούλην παρίδῃς
Ὁ ἀµέτρητον ἔχων τὸ ἔλεος.

«On sinful woman», by Cassia

Lord, she who fell into many sins
has recognized your Godhead,
and has joined the myrrh-bearing women;
weeping she brings myrrh for you before your entombment.
«Alas», she cries, «what night is upon me,
what a dark and moonless madness of unrestraint,
a lust for sin.
Accept my welling tears,
you who procure the water of the sea through the clouds;
incline to the grievings of my heart,
you who made the sky bow down by the unutterable abasement [of your incarnation].
Many times will I kiss your undefiled feet,
and then dry them
with the hair of my head;
those feet whose footfalls Eve heard at dusk
in Paradise and hid in terror.
Who will trace out the multitude of my transgressions,
or the abysses [unpredictability] of your judgements, Saviour of souls?
Do not overlook me, your servant,
In your boundless compassion.

5. «Κοντάκιον Χριστουγέννων», τρεῖς πρῶτες στάσεις, Ρωμανός Μελωδός (περ. 500)

Ἡ παρθένος σηµερον τὸν ὑπερούσιον τίκτει,
καὶ ἡ γῆ τὸ σπήλαιον τῷ ἀπροσίτῳ προσάγει
ἄγγελοι µετὰ ποιµένων δοξολογοῦσι,
µάγοι δὲ µετὰ ἀστέρος ὁδοιποροῦσι
δι᾿ ἡµᾶς γὰρ ἐγεννήθη
παιδίον νέον, Ὁ πρὸ αἰώνων Θεός.

Τὴν Ἐδὲµ Βηθλεὲµ ἤνοιξε, δεῦτε ἴδωµεν
τὴν τρυφὴν ἐν κρυφῇ ηὕραµεν, δεῦτε λαβωµεν
τὰ τοῦ παραδείσου ἐντὸς τοῦ σπηλαίου
ἐκεῖ ἐφάνη ῥίζα ἀπότιστος βλαστάνουσα ἄφεσιν,
ἐκεῖ ηὑρέθη φρέαρ ἀνόρυκτον,
οὗ πιεῖν Δαβὶδ πρὶν ἐπεθυµησεν
ἐκεῖ παρθένος τεκοῦσα βρέφος
τὴν δίψαν ἔπαυσεν εὐθὺς τὴν τοῦ Ἀδὰµ καὶ τοῦ Δαβίδ
διὰ τοῦτο πρὸς τοῦτο ἐπειχθῶµεν, ποὺ ἐτέχθη
παιδίον νέον, ὁ πρὸ αἰώνων Θεός.

Ὁ πατὴρ τῆς µητρὸς γνώµῃ υἱὸς ἐγένετο
Ὁ σωτὴρ τῶν βρεφῶν βρέφος ἐν φάτνῃ ἔκειτο
ὃν κατανοούσα φησὶν ἡ τεκοῦσα
«Εἰπέ µοι, τέκνον, πῶς ἐνεσπάρης μοι, ἢ πῶς ἐνεφύης μοι;
ὁρῶ σέ, σπλάγχνον, καὶ καταπλήττοµαι,
ὅτι γαλουχῶ καὶ οὐ νενυµφευµαι
καὶ σὲ μὲν βλέπω μετὰ σπαργάνων,
τὴν παρθενίαν δὲ ἀκµὴν ἐσφραγισµένην θεωρῶ
σὺ γὰρ ταύτην φυλάξας ἐγεννήθης εὐδοκήσας
παιδίον νέον, ὁ πρὸ αἰώνων Θεός.

Ὑψηλὲ βασιλεῦ, τὶ σοὶ καὶ τοῖς πτωχεύσασι;
ποιητὰ οὐρανοῦ, τὶ πρὸς γηίνους ἤλυθας;
σπηλαίου ἠράσθης, ἢ φάτνη ἐτέρφθης;
Ἰδοὺ οὔκ ἐστι τόπος τῇ δούλῃ σου ἐν τῷ καταλύµατι
οὐ λέγω τόπον, ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲ σπήλαιον,
ὅτι καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο ἀλλότριον
καὶ τῇ μὲν Σάῤῥᾳ τεκούσῃ βρέφος
ἐδόθη κλῆρος γῆς πολύς, ἐµοὶ δὲ οὐδὲ φωλεός
ἐχρησάµην τὸ ἄντρον, ὃ κατῴκησας βουλήσει
παιδίον νέον, ὁ πρὸ αἰώνων Θεός.

«Christmas Hymn», first three stanzas, by Romanos

Today the Virgin gives birth to him who is beyond substance;
and the earth offers a cave to him who is unapproachable.
Angels with shepherds give praise,
and by a star the Wise Men make their way;
for unto us is born
a little child, God of all time.

Bethlehem has opened the gates of Eden; come, let us see.
In a secret place we have found delight; come, let us partake
of paradise within the cave.
In it has appeared a root never watered, blossoming forth forgiveness;
in it has been found a well never dug,
a well from which David once longed to drink.
In it a virgin has given birth to a child,
and at once has brought to an end the thirst of Adam and of David.
Therefore, let us hasten to the place where has been born
a little child, God of all time.

The Father, by his will alone, became the Son of the Mother.
The Saviour of infants, an infant himself, lay in the manger.
When his mother realized this, she said:
«Tell me, child, how were you sown in me, and how did you set you roots in me?
I see you, my flesh and blood, and am amazed,
that I give suck and am not married,
that I see you in swaddling bands
and yet still see that my virginity is sealed;
for it pleased you to preserve it when you were born,
a little child, God of all time.

Great monarch, what have you in common with the poor?
Creator of the heavens, why have you come to the people of the earth?
Did you desire a cave or take pleasure in a manger?
See, there is no room for your handmaiden at the inn;
no room, I say, not even a cave,
for even that is not mine.
And yet to Sarah, when she bore a child,
was allotted a wide stretch of land; but to me not even a wild beast’s hair.
I used the cave which you, of your own will, inhabited,
a little child, God of all time.

6. «Ἀκάθιστος Ὕµνος», δύο πρῶτες στάσεις, Ἀνωνύμου (περ.625)

Τῇ ὑπερµάχῳ στρατηγῷ τὰ νικητήρια
ὡς λυτρωθεῖσα τῶν δεινῶν εὐχαριστήρια
ἀναγράφω σοι ἡ Πόλις σου Θεοτόκε
ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἔχουσα τὸ κράτος ἀπροσµάχητον
ἐκ παντοίων µε κινδύνων ἐλευθέρωσον
ἵνα κράζω σοι· «χαῖρε Νύµφη ἀνύµφευτε».

Ἄγγελος πρωτοστάτης οὐρανόθεν ἐπέµφθη
εἰπεῖν τῇ Θεοτόκῳ τὸ «χαῖρε»
καὶ σὺν τῇ ἀσωµάτῳ φωνῇ
σωµατούµενόν σε θεωρῶν, Κύριε,
ἐξίστατο καὶ ἵστατο, κραυγάζων πρὸς αὐτὴν τοιαῦτα·
Χαῖρε, δι᾿ ἧς ἡ χαρὰ ἐκλάμψει·
χαῖρε, δι᾿ ἧς ἡ ἀρὰ ἐκλείψει.
Χαῖρε, τοῦ πεσόντος Ἀδὰμ ἡ ἀνάκλησις·
χαῖρε, τῶν δακρύων τῆς Εὔας ἡ λύτρωσις.
Χαῖρε, ὕψος δυσανάβατον ἀνθρωπίνοις λογισμοῖς·
χαῖρε, βάθος δυσθεώρητον καὶ ἀγγέλων ὀφθαλμοῖς.
Χαῖρε, ὅτι ὑπάρχεις βασιλέως καθέδρα·
χαῖρε, ὅτι βαστάζεις τὸν βαστάζοντα πάντα.
Χαῖρε, ἀστὴρ ἐμφαίνων τὸν ἥλιον·
χαῖρε, γαστὴρ ἐνθέου σαρκώσεως.
Χαῖρε, δι᾿ ἧς νεουργεῖται ἡ κτίσις·
χαῖρε, δι᾿ ἧς βρεφουργεῖται ὁ Κτίστης.
Χαῖρε, Νύμφη ἀνύμφευτε.

Βλέπουσα ἡ ἁγία ἑαυτὴν ἐν ἁγνείᾳ
φησὶ τῷ Γαβριὴλ θαρσαλέως·
«Το παράδοξόν σου τῆς φωνῆς
δυσπαράδεκτόν µου τῇ ψυχῇ φαίνεται
ἀσπόρου γὰρ συλλήψεως τὴν κύησιν πῶς λέγεις κράζων
Ἀλληλούϊα.»

«The Akathistos Hymn», first two stanzas, Anonymous

To you, Mother of God, champion and leader,
I, your city [Constantinople], delivered from sufferings,
ascribe the prize of victory and my thanks.
And may you, in your invincible power,
free me from all kinds of dangers,
that I may cry to you: «Hail, wedded maiden and virgin.»

A leading angel was sent from heaven
to say to the virgin: «Hail.»
And when he saw you,
Ὁ Lord, becoming flesh,
he was amazed and arose and cried to her with voice incorporeal:
«Hail to you through whom all joy will shine out;
hail to you through whom the curse shall pass away;
hail, redemption of fallen Adam;
hail, deliverance of the tears of Eve;
hail, height unattainable by human thought;
hail, depth invisible even to the eyes of angels;
hail to you, the throne of the king;
hail to you who bear him, the bearer of all;
hail, star that heralds the sun;
hail, womb of divine incarnation;
hail to you through whom creation is reborn;
hail to you through whom the Creator becomes a child;
Hail, wedded maiden and virgin.»

The holy lady, seeing herself to be chaste,
spoke boldly to Gabriel:
«The paradox of your words
I find hard for my soul to accept;
What do you mean when you speak of childbirth
from a conception without seed, crying Alleluia?»

7. «Μέγας Κανών», Ποίημα Ἀνδρέου Κρήτης

Βοηθὸς καὶ σκεπαστὴς ἐγένετό μοι εἰς σωτηρίαν
οὗτος µου Θεός, καὶ δοξάσω αὐτόν·
Θεὸς τοῦ πατρὸς µου, καὶ ὑψώσω αὐτόν·
ἐνδόξως γὰρ δεδόξασται.

Πόθεν ἄρξωµαι θρηνεῖν τὰς τοῦ ἀθλίου µου βίου πράξεις;
Ποίαν ἀπαρχὴν ἐπιθήσω, Χριστέ,
Τῇ νῦν θρηνῳδίᾳ; Ἀλλ᾿ ὡς εὔσπλαγχνός μοι δὸς
παραπτωµάτων ἄφεσιν.

Δεῦρο τάλαινα ψυχή, σὺν τῇ σαρκί σου τῷ κτίστῃ πάντων
ἐξοµολογοῦ καὶ ἀπόσχου λοιπὸν
τῆς πρὶν ἀλογίας καὶ προσάγαγε Θεῷ
ἐν µετανοίᾳ δάκρυα.

Τὸν πρωτόπλαστον Ἀδὰµ τῇ παραβάσει παραζηλώσας
ἔγνων ἐµαυτὸν γυµνωθέντα Θεοῦ
καὶ τῆς ἀϊδίου βασιλείας καὶ τρυφῆς
διὰ τὰς ἁµαρτίας µου.

Οἴµοι τάλαινα ψυχή! Τί ὠµοιώθης τῇ πρώτη Εὔᾳ;
Εἶδες γὰρ κακῶς καὶ ἐτρώθης πικρῶς
καὶ ἥψω τοῦ ξύλου καὶ ἐγεύσω προπετῶς
τῆς παραλόγου βρώσεως.

Ἀντὶ Εὔας αἰσθητῆς ἡ νοητή μοι κατέστη Εὔα,
Ὁ ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ ἐµπαθὴς λογισµὸς
δείκνυς τὰ ἡδέα καὶ γευοµενος ἀεὶ
τῆς πικρᾶς καταπόσεως.

Ἐπαξίως τῆς Ἐδὲµ προεξεῤῥίφη ὡς µὴ φυλάξας
µίαν σου, σωτήρ, ἐντολὴν ὁ Ἀδάµ·
ἐγὼ δέ τί πάθω, ἀθετῶν διὰ παντὸς
τὰ ζωηρά σου λόγια;

Ὑπερούσιε Τριὰς ἡ ἐν µονάδι προσκυνουµένη,
ἆρον τὸν κλοιὸν ἀπ᾿ ἐµοῦ τὸν βαρὺν
τὸν τῆς ἀµαρτίας καὶ ὡς εὔσπλαγχνός μοι δὸς
δάκρυα κατανύξεως.

Θεοτόκε ἡ ἐλπὶς καὶ προστασία τῶν σὲ ὑµνούντων,
ἆρον τὸν κλοιὸν ἀπ᾿ ἐµοῦ τὸν βαρὺν
τὸν τῆς ἀµαρτίας, καὶ ὡς Δέσποινα ἁγνὴ
µετανοοῦντα δέξαι µε.

«Major Canon», First Ode, by Andreas of Crete

He has become the guardian, the protector who leads me to salvation;
he is my God, and I pay honor to him;
he is the God of my father, and I shall exalt him;
for in glory he is honored.

From what point shall I begin to weep for the doings of my wretched life?
Where shall I start, Ὁ Christ,
in my present lamentation? Of your mercy
forgive my trespasses.

Come, miserable soul, confess with your flesh to the Creator of all,
and in future desist
from your former indifference; offer tears
of repentance to God.

You have vied with Adam, the first created man, in disobedience;
I have felt myself stripped of God,
of the eternal kingdom, of delight,
because of my sins.

Alas, wretched soul, why did you make yourself like the first Eve?
Evil was your glance and you were bitterly wounded;
you touched the tree and imprudently tasted
of the deceitful fruit.

Instead of the Eve of the flesh, mine is an Eve of the spirit:
the thoughts of the flesh, full of passion,
pointing to what is sweet, and always tasting
of a mouthful of bitterness.

Adam was deservedly cast out of Eden, since he did not keep
one of your commandments, Ὁ Savior.
What then shall I suffer? For I have disregarded all
your life-giving sayings.

Ὁ Trinity, beyond substance, whom we worship as one:
lift off from me the heavy collar
of sin; of your mercy grant me
tears of contrition.

Mother of God, hope and protector of your worshippers,
lift off from me the heavy collar
of sin; receive me, pure lady,
as I repent.

8. «Εἰ τοίνυν σὺ ἐνδέδυσαι...», Συμεών Μυστικός

Εἰ τοίνυν σὺ ἐνδέδυσαι σαρκός σου τὴν αἰσχύνην
καὶ νοῦν οὐκ ἀπεγυµνωσας, ψυχὴν οὐκ ἀπεδύσω,
τὸ φῶς ἰδεῖν οὐκ ἴσχυσας σκότει κεκαλυµµένος,
ἐγὼ σοί τί ποιήσαιµι; τὰ φρικτὰ πῶς σοι δείξω;
πῶς εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Δαβὶδ εἰσενέγκω σε οἴµοι;
Ἐστὶ καὶ γὰρ ἀπρόσιτος τοῖς κατ᾿ ἐµὲ ῥαθύµοις,
ἐστὶν ὅλος ἀόρατος τυφλοῖς ἐµοὶ ὀµοίοις,
ἐστὶ µακρὰν ἀπίστων τε καὶ ὀκνηρῶν εἰσάπαν,
πονηρῶν πάντων πόῤῥωθεν, πάντων τῶν φιλοκόσµων·
τῶν κενοδόξων δὲ οὕτως ἀσυγκρίτως ἀπέχει
ὡς ὑπὲρ ὕψος οὐρανοῦ, ὑπὲρ βάθος ἀβύσσου.

«You Alone Can See», by Symeon the Mystic

What can I do for you if you wear the shameful garment of the flesh
and have not laid bare your mind and made naked your soul,
if you remain covered in darkness and do not have the strength to see the light?
How can I show you things full of terror?
Alas, how can I lead you into the House of David?
It is unapproachable to thoughtless people like myself;
no trace of it can be seen to the blind like myself;
it lies very far from the faithless and the indolent,
far from all those who are evil, from the lovers of worldly things.
It is as incomparably distant from the conceited
as the heights of the sky or the depths of the abyss.

9. «Αἱ Ὧραι», Χριστοφόρος Μυτιληναῖος

Ἡµεῖς ἀδελφαὶ γνήσιαι ψυχῶν δίχα·
ἄλλη μὲν ἄλλης τῷ χρόνῳ πρεσβυτέρα,
ἴσαι δὲ πᾶσαι τοὺς διαύλους τῶν χρόνων·
αἳ καὶ καλοῦµεν οὐκ ἀνοίγουσαι στόµα,
βαδιζοµεν δὲ µὴ πόδας κεκτηµέναι.
Ἐνταῦθά σοι λαλοῦµεν, ὡς ὁρᾶν ἔχεις,
καὶ πανταχοῦ πάρεσµεν, εἰ σκοπεῖν θέλεις.

«The Hours», by Christophorus of Mytilene

We are true sisters without souls.
One is older than the other,
but in the circling courses of the years we are of equal length.
We call out without opening our mouths,
and we walk though we have no legs.
We speak to you here, as you can see;
and we are everywhere present, if you wish to look.

10. «Διγενὴς καὶ Φιλοπάππος»,
ἐκ τοῦ ἔπους Διγενὴς Ἀκρίτας

Εὐθὺς δὲ ὁ Φιλοπάππος κατέβη ἐκ τοῦ ἵππου
καὶ τὸ σπαθί του σήκωσεν ὁµοῦ καὶ τὸ σκουτάριν,
µεγάλως ἦλθεν πρὸς ἐµὲ νοµίζων µἐ φοβίσῃ,
ὡς λέων δὲ ἐφώναζεν, ὡς δράκοντας συρίζων,
εἶχεν καὶ γὰρ ὡς ἀληθῶς ὀρµὴν ἀνδρειοτάτην·
σπαθέαν οὖν µοῦ ἔδωσεν καλὴν εἰς τὸ σκουτάριν,
τοῦ σκουταριοῦ τὸ κρατηµα ἐπόµεινεν στο χέρι.
Οἱ δύο ἐξεφώνησαν ἀντίκρυς βλέποντάς µας·
«Και ἄλλην µιάν, Φιλόπαππε, γεροντικήν του δῶσε!»
Ἐκεῖνος τότε ἠθέλησε νὰ σηκώσῃ τὸ σπαθί του,
ἐγὼ ὀπισθαπόδησα, µικρὸν ἀναπηδήσας
µὲ τὸ ῥαβδὶ τὸν ἔδωσα στὴν κεφαλὴν ἀπάνω,
καὶ εἰ µὴ ταύτην ἔσκεπε διόλου τὸ σκουτάριν,
κόκκαλον δὲν ἀπόµενεν γερὸν ἀπάνω εἰς αὐτήν·
ὅµως ὁ γέρων ζαλισθεὶς ἐτρόµαξε µεγάλως,
καὶ µυκησάµενος ὡς βοῦς ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἡπλώθη.

«The Combat Between Digenis and
Philopappos» from the Epic of Digenis Akritas

At once Philopappos jumped down from his horse
and lifted his sword and his shield.
He came mightily towards me thinking he would terrify me,
roaring like a lion and hissing like a snake –
truly he rushed forward with great spirit.
He struck my shield violently with his sword;
Only the handle of the shield was left in my hand.
His two supporters, looking directly at us, cried out:
«Hit him again, old Philopappos.»
He then tried to lift his sword,
but I moved back, jumping slightly,
and struck him on the head with my club;
and if his head had not been completely covered by his shield,
not a bone in itwould have been left uncracked.
Even so, the old man was stunned and greatly terrified;
and, lowing like a bull, he fell flat on the ground.

11. «Ο Θάνατος τοῦ Διγενῆ», Ἀνωνύμου

Ὁ Διγενὴς ψυχοµαχεῖ κι ἡ γῆ τόνε τροµάσσει.
Βροντᾶ κι ἀστράφτει ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ σειέτ᾿ ὁ ἀπάνω κόσµος,
κι ὁ κάτω κόσµος ἄνοιξε καὶ τρίζουν τὰ θεµέλια,
κι ἡ πλάκα τὸν ἀνατριχιᾶ πὼς θὰ τόνε σκεπάσῃ,
πῶς θὰ σκεπάσῃ τὸν ἀϊτὸ τῆς γῆς τὸν ἀντρειωµένο.
Σπίτι δὲν τὸν ἐσκέπαζε, σπήλιο δὲν τὸν ἐχώρει,
τὰ ὄρη ἐδιασκέλιζε, βουνοῦ κορφὲς ἐπήδα,
χαράκια ἀµαδολόγανε καὶ ῥιζιµιὰ ξεκούνιε.
Στὸ βίτσιµά ῾πιανε πουλιά, στὸ πέταµα γεράκια,
Στὸ γλάκιο καὶ στὸ πήδηµα τὰ ῾λάφια καὶ τ᾿ ἀγρίµια.
Ζηλεύγει ὁ Χάρος µἐ χωσιά, µακρὰ τόνε βιγλίζει,
καὶ λάβωσέ του τὴν καρδιὰ καὶ τὴν ψυχή του πῆρε.

«The Death of Digenis», anonymous Folk-song

Digenis is struggling with death and the earth shudders.
The sky is filled with thunder and lightning, the upper world shakes,
the nether world has opened and its foundations creak.
And the trembling tombstone wonders how to cover him,
how to cover the brave eagle of the world.
No house could put a roof over his head, no cave could hold him;
he strode across the hills, he leapt over the mountain tops,
he played quoits with boulders, he shook loose deep-rooted rocks;
he jumped so high that he caught the birds, the falcon on the wing;
he jumped and ran faster than the deer or the wild beast.
Death was envious and from a distant ambush watched him,
and wounded him in the heart, snatching away his soul.

12. «Παιδίν µου, µάθε γράµµατα», Πτωχοπρόδρομος

Ἀπὸ µικρόθεν µ᾿ ἔλεγεν ὁ γέρων ὁ πατήρ µου·
«Παιδίν µου, µάθε γράµµατα καὶ ὡσὰν ἐσέναν ἔχει.
Βλέπεις τὸν δεῖνα, τέκνον µου, πεζὸς περιεπάτει,
καὶ τώρα διπλοεντέληνος καὶ παχυµουλαρᾶτος.
Αὐτός, ὅταν ἐµάνθανε, ὑπόδησιν οὐκ εἶχεν,
καὶ τώρα βλέπεις τὸν φορεῖ τὰ µακρυµύτικά του.
Αὐτός, ὅταν ἐµάνθανε, ποτέ του οὐκ ἐκτενίσθη,
καὶ τώρα καλοκτένιστος καὶ καµαροτριχάρης.
Αὐτός, ὅταν ἐµάνθανε, λουτρόθυραν οὐκ εἶδε,
καὶ τώρα λουτρακίζεται τρίτον τὴν ἑβδοµάδα.
Αὐτός, ὁ κόλπος του ἔγεµε φθεῖρας ἀµυγδαλάτας,
καὶ τώρα τὰ ὑπέρπυρα γέµει τὰ µανοηλάτα.

Καὶ πείσθητι γεροντικοῖς καὶ πατρικοῖς μοι λόγοις,
καὶ µάθε τὰ γραµµατικά, καὶ ὡσὰν ἐσέναν ἔχει.»
Καὶ ἔµαθον τὰ γραµµατα μετὰ πολλοῦ τοῦ κόπου.
Ἀφ᾿ οὗ δὲ τάχα γέγονα γραµµατικὸς τεχνίτης,
ἐπιθυµῶ καὶ τὸ ψωµὶν καὶ τοῦ ψωµιοῦ τὴν µάνναν·
ὑβρίζω τὰ γραµµατικά, λέγω μετὰ δακρύων·
«Ἀνάθεµαν τὰ γράµµατα, Χριστέ, καὶ ὁποῦ τὰ θέλει,
ἀνάθεµαν καὶ τὸν καιρὸν καὶ ἐκείνην τὴν ἠµέραν,
καθ᾿ ἣν µὲ παρεδώκασιν εἰς τὸ διδασκαλεῖον,
πρὸς τὸ νὰ µάθω γράµµατα, τάχα νὰ ζῶ ἀπ᾿ ἐκεῖνα!»
Ἐδάρε τότε ἂν µ᾿ ἔποικαν τεχνίτην χρυσοράπτην,
ἀπ᾿ αὐτοὺς ὁποῦ κάµνουσι τὰ κλαπωτὰ καὶ ζῶσι,
καὶ ἔµαθα τέχνην κλαπωτὴν τὴν περιφρονηµένην,
οὐ µὴ ἤνοιγα τὸ ἀρµάριν µου καὶ ηὔρισκα ὅτι γέµει
ψωµίν, κρᾶσιν πληθυντικὸν καὶ θυννοµαγειρίαν,
καὶ παλαµιδοκόµµατα καὶ τσίρους καὶ σκουµπρία·
παρ᾿ οὗ ὅτι τώρα ἀνοίγω το, βλέπω τοὺς πάτους ὅλους,
καὶ βλέπω χαρτοσάκουλα γεµάτα µὲ χαρτία.
Ἀνοίγω τὴν ἀρκλίτσαν µου, νὰ εὕρω ψωµὶν κοµµάτιν,
καὶ εὑρίσκω χαρτοσάκουλον ἄλλο µικροτερίτσιν.
Ἁπλώνω εἰς τὸ περσίκιν µου, γυρεύω τὸ πουγγίν µου,
διὰ στάµενον τὸ ψηλαφῶ, καὶ αὐτὸ γέµει χαρτία.
Ἀφ᾿ οὗ δὲ τὰς γωνίας µου τὰς ὅλας ψηλαφήσω,
ἵσταµαι τότε κατηφὴς καὶ ἀποµεριµνηµένος,
λιποθυµῶ καὶ ὀλιγωρῶ ἐκ τῆς πολλῆς µου πείνας·
καὶ ἀπὸ τὴν πεῖναν τὴν πολλὴν καὶ τὴν στενοχωρίαν
γραµµάτων καὶ γραµµατικῶν τὰ κλαπωτὰ προκρίνω.

«Cursed be Learning», by Ptochoprodromos

From the time when I was little my old father used to tell me:
«My child, learn letters, for there are others like you.
You see, so-and-so, my child, he used to go on foot,
and now he has a double-breasted plate [for his mule] and rides a well-fed mule.
When he was studying he had no shoes,
and now you see he wears pointed shoes.
When he was studying he never combed his hair,
and now he is well-groomed and proud of his coiffure.
When he was studying he never saw the door of a bath-house,
and now he takes three baths a week.
The fold of his cloak was covered in lice as big as almonds,
and now it is full of the golden coins of Emperor Manuel.

Listen to the words of an old man, your father,
learn your grammar, there are others like you.»
And I learned my grammar with great pains,
and now that I have become, so to speak, a master of letters,
I long for bread and for all that goes to make bread,
and curse education, and cry out with tears:
«Cursed be learning, my Christ, and cursed those who wish to be educated.
Cursed be the time and the day
when they handed me over to school
to learn how to read and write, as if to make a living from it.»
Look, if they had then turned me into an artisan, a tailor of gold-embroidery,
one of those who sew gold-embroidered garments to make a living,
and, if I had learnt this despised art of sewing gold-embroidered clothes,
I would now open my cupboard and find it full of bread,
full of much wine and cooked tuna fish,
and pieces of tuna, and dried sardines and mackerel.
Whereas now I open it and look through all the shelves
and see paper-bags full of paper.
I open my bread box to find a piece of bread,
and find another smaller paper-bag.
I stretch my hand into my pocket to find my purse,
I search for a coin, and my pocket is full of paper.
And then I search through all the corners of my house
and stand dejected and full of cares,
I faint and feel weak, because I am so hungry;
and being hungry and full of worries
I declare the occupation of a tailor of gold-embroidered clothes
superior to that of a man of learning and grammarians.

13. «Περιγραφὴ τῆς Χρυσοῤῥόης», ἐκ τοῦ ἔργου
«Καλλίμαχος καὶ Χρυσοῤῥόη», Ἀνωνύμου

Ἦν γὰρ ἡ κόρη πάντερπνος ἐρωτοφορουµένη,
ἀσύγκριτος τὰς ἡδονάς, τὸ κάλλος ὑπὲρ λόγον,
τὰς χάριτας ὑπὲρ αὐτὴν τὴν τῶν χαρίτων φύσιν.
Βοστρύχους εἶχεν ποταµούς, ἐρωτικοὺς πλοκάµους·
εἶχεν ὁ βόστρυχος αὐγὴν εἰς κεφαλὴν τῆς κόρης,
ἀπέστιλβεν ὑπὲρ χρυσὴν ἀκτίναν τοῦ ἡλίου.
Σῶµα λευκὸν ὑπὲρ αὐτὴν τὴν τοῦ κρυστάλλου φύσιν
ὑπέκλεπτεν τοὺς ὀφθαλµοὺς τοῦ σωµατος ἡ χάρις.
Ἐδόκει γὰρ σὺν τῷ λευκῷ καὶ ῥόδου χάριν ἔχειν.
Ἂν µόνον ἀνενδράνισες, τὸ πρόσωπον ἂν εἶδες,
ἐσείσθης ὅλην τὴν ψυχήν, ὅλην σου τὴν καρδίαν·
ἁπλῶς τὴν κόρην ἄγαλµα τῆς Ἀφροδίτης εἶπες
καὶ πάσης ἄλλης ἡδονῆς ὅσας ὁ νοῦς συµπλέκει.
Τί δὲ πολλὰ πολυλογῶ, τί δὲ πολλὰ καὶ γράφω·
τάχα πρὸς τὸν καλλωπισµὸν τοῦ σωµατος τῆς κόρης;
Λόγος µικρὸς ἂν ἐξαρκῇ πρὸς τὸ νὰ τὸ δηλώσῃ·
ὅσας ὁ κόσµος ἔφερε γυναίκας εἰς τὸ µέσον
καὶ πρὸ αὐτῆς καὶ µετ᾿ αὐτὴν καὶ τότε ὅσαι ἦσαν
ὡς πρὸς τὰς χάριτας αὐτῆς µιµῶ πρὸς Ἀφροδίτην.

«Description of Chrysorrhoe», from
«Callimachos and Chrysorrhoe», by Anonymous

The maiden was wholly delightful, adorned with love
and incomparable in sweetness. No words can describe her beauty;
her grace was superior to the very nature of the Graces.
Her tresses were like rivers, locks full of love:
the hair on the maiden’s head glowed
and flashed brighter than the sun’s golden rays.
Her body was whiter than the very nature of crystal,
and the grace of her form softly enslaved the eyes;
for with her whiteness she seemed to have the charm of the rose.
If you only cast your eyes on her, if you looked at her face,
your whole soul was shaken, your whole heart;
you would simply have called the maiden a statue of Aphrodite,
a statue of all the delights that the mind can combine.
There is no need to say much, to write long
about the natural adornments of her body;
it is enough to say briefly
that all the women whom the world brought forth
before she was born and after her time, and all who were then living,
compared with her charms only as a monkey to Aphrodite.

14. «Ο Διγενὴς κι ὁ Χάροντας», Κωστὴς Παλαμᾶς

Καβάλα πάει ὁ Χάροντας
τὸ Διγενῆ στον Ἅδη,
κι ἄλλους µαζί... Κλαίει, δέρνεται
τ᾿ ἀνθρώπινο κοπάδι.

Καὶ τοὺς κρατεῖ στοῦ ἀλόγου του
δεµένους τὰ καπούλια
τῆς λεβεντιᾶς τὸν ἄνεµο,
τῆς ὀµορφιᾶς τὴν πούλια.

Καὶ σὰ νὰ µὴν τὸν πάτησε
τοῦ Χάρου τὸ ποδάρι,
Ὁ Ἀκρίτας µόνο ἀτάραχα
κοιτάει τὸν καβαλάρη.

«Ο Ἀκρίτας εἶμαι, Χάροντα,
δὲν περνῶ µὲ τὰ χρόνια,
µ᾿ ἄγγιξες καὶ δὲ µ᾿ ἔνιωσες
στὰ µαρµαρένια ἁλώνια;

Εἶµ᾿ ἐγὼ ἡ ἀκατάλυτη
ψυχὴ τῶν Σαλαµίνων·
στὴν Ἑφτάλοφην ἔφερα
τὸ σπαθὶ τῶν Ἑλλήνων.

Δὲ χάνοµαι στὰ Τάρταρα,
µονάχα ξαποσταίνω·
στὴ ζωὴ ξαναφαίνοµαι
καὶ λαοὺς ἀνασταίνω!»

«Digenis Akritas», by Kostis Palamas

Death takes Digenis
to Hades on his horse,
and many more... The herd of mortals
beat their breast and lament.

He has tied
behind the saddle of his horse
the breath of manhood,
the Pleiades of beauty.

But only Akritas,
as though the foot of Death
had not stepped upon him,
stares calmly at the horseman.

«I am Akritas, Death,
I do not pass with the years;
how is it that you touched me, but did not realize who I was,
on the marble threshing-floor?

I am the undying
soul of Salamis,
I have brought the sword of the Greeks
to the gates of the seven-hilled city [Constantinople].

I do not perish in Tartarus,
I only rest a little;
I reappear in life,
and resurrect nations!»

Διεισδυτικὸς Πυρσὸς καὶ Νασταλικὸ Κάτοπτρο τῆς Ρωμανίας
Ἑλληνικὸς Ἑπαγγελματικὸς Σύλλογος ποιητικῶν Ἑσπερίδων
Τέξας, Χιοῦστον, 25 Ἀπριλίου 2004

ὑπό:
Ἀλεξάνδρου Καλαμαρίδη
μὲ τὴν συμμετοχὴ τῶν:
Κατερίνας Κοντογεωργάκη
Μάνου Παπαδάκη
Δημητρίου Βαρβαρέζου
a Penetrating Torch and Evocative Mirror to the Byzantine World
A Hellenic Professional Society of Texas Poetry Evening
Byzantine Fresco Chapel, Houston, April 25, 2004

by
Alex Kalamarides
with the participation of
Katerina Kontogeorgaki
Manos Papadakis
Dimitrios Varvarezos