Our Sun

By George Seferis 1900–1971 George Seferis

Translated By Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

This sun was mine and yours; we shared it.
Who’s suffering behind the golden silk, who’s dying?
A woman beating her dry breasts cried out: ‘Cowards,
they’ve taken my children and torn them to shreds, you’ve killed them
gazing at the fire-flies at dusk with a strange look,
lost in blind thought.’
The blood was drying on a hand that a tree made green,
a warrior was asleep clutching the lance that cast light against his side.

It was ours, this sun, we saw nothing behind the gold embroidery
then the messengers came, dirty and breathless,
stuttering unintelligible words
twenty days and nights on the barren earth with thorns only
twenty days and nights feeling the bellies of the horses bleeding
and not a moment’s break to drink the rain-water.
You told them to rest first and then to speak, the light had dazzled you.
They died saying ‘We don’t have time’, touching some rays of the sun.
You’d forgotten that no one rests.

A woman howled ‘Cowards’, like a dog in the night.
Once she would have been beautiful like you
with wet mouth, veins alive beneath the skin,
with love.

This sun was ours; you kept all of it, you wouldn’t follow me.
And it was then I found out about those things behind the gold and the silk:
we don’t have time. The messengers were right.

George Seferis, "Our Sun" 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 Relationships, War & Conflict, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Living, 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 Relationships, War & Conflict, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Living, Death

POET’S REGION Greece

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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