Spring A. D.

By George Seferis 1900–1971 George Seferis

Translated By Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Again with spring
she wore light colours
and with gentle steps
again with spring
again in summer
she was smiling.

Among fresh blossoms
breast naked to the veins
beyond the dry night
beyond the white old men
debating quietly
whether it would be better
to give up the keys
or to pull the rope
and hang from the noose
to leave empty bodies
there where souls couldn’t endure
there where the mind couldn’t catch up
and knees buckled.

With the new blossoms
the old men failed
and gave up on everything
grandchildren and great-grandchildren
the broad fields
the green mountains
love and life
compassion and shelter
rivers and sea;
and they departed like statues
leaving behind a silence
that no sword could cut
that no gallop could break
nor the voices of the young;
and the great loneliness came
the great privation
along with this spring
and settled and spread
like the frost of dawn
caught hold of the high branches
slid down the trunks of trees
and wrapped around our soul.

But she smiled
wearing light colours
like a blossoming almond tree
in yellow flames
and walked along lightly
opening windows
in the delighted sky
without us the luckless ones.
And I saw her breast naked
the waist and the knee,
as the inviolate martyr
inviolate and pure
issues from the torment
to go to heaven,
beyond the inexplicable
whispering of people
in the boundless circus
beyond the black grimace
the sweaty neck
of the exasperated executioner
striking vainly.

The loneliness now a lake
the privation now a lake
untouched and untraceable.


                                                       16 March ’39

George Seferis, "Spring A. D." from Collected Poems (George Seferis). Translated, edited, and introduced by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Copyright © 1995 by George Seferis.  Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.

Source: George Seferis: Collected Poems (Princeton University Press, 1995)

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Poet George Seferis 1900–1971

POET’S REGION Greece

Subjects Spring, Living, Summer, Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Nature, Death

 George  Seferis

Biography

Greek poet George Seferis was born Georgios Seferiades in Urla, near Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey). He worked as a diplomat for the Royal Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1963. His collections of poetry include Strophe (Turning Point, 1931), E Sterna (The Cistern, 1932), Mythistorima (1935), and Logbook I, Logbook II, and Logbook III (1940, 1945, 1955). In 1914, Seferis and his family . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Spring, Living, Summer, Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Nature, Death

POET’S REGION Greece

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