Nikos Kavvadias, Federico Garcia Lorca


For a moment, you waved your bolero
and your orange petticoat, like banners.
Was it in August? I remember it so,
when they were all setting off, the cross-bearers.

In the wind the ranks of banners rippled –
toward death the galleys set their sails.
While children were cowering at the nipple
the old man was lazily sunning his balls.

Picasso’s bull let out a snort;
in the hives the honey all turned rotten.
The course is against us – it’s set for the north.
Full ahead – never mind that we’re forgotten.

The olives spread easy under the sun,
and little crosses grew in the gardens.
At night, only sterile embraces remained
when they brought you, my gypsy, wrapped in an apron.

My gypsy, my leader, what for your pall?
Bring the purple cloth of Mauretania.
In Kaisariani they took us behind the wall,
and the mass was raised to manly stature.

Distoman girls, bring water and vinegar:
cross-wise on the mare your body lain,
set out on the final journey to Cordoba,
across its thirsty open plain.

The marsh-boat reversed, narrow, no keel;
the weapons rust in a gypsy redoubt.
In the empty arena, let the crows wheel;
let the seven dogs howl in the village all night.

*English translation Simon Darragh from the book ‘Wireless Operator’. See also


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