Demosthenes the Athenian on Kalavria

by Liana Sakelliou

Translated by Don Schofield

Craftsmen restored the statues
in the Temple of Heroes
along with the railings and small pillars,
riveted the eagle back in place,
including its tail-feathers and broken beak,
and finally, with a pantograph, made a bust
of Demosthenes, the famous orator.

The one we still have,
the one we cope with.
The head has come unglued several times.
Drunks threw stones at it during the Metaxas dictatorship.
Naturally the perpetrators were imprisoned,
the bust reglued. But the adhesive
still keeps coming loose. By now,
from the bust’s many falls, the nose
and part of the neck have broken off.

Remember: islanders go tame,
highlanders grow wild.

Originally made with marble from Dionysos,
a gift to the town from Rear Admiral Khatziloukas,
it’s now held in place by volcanic rock.
The orator looks out on the path
to the Monastery and Fousa, where,
in the shadows, hemlock flares up.

Δημοσθένης ὁ Ἀθηναῖος ἐν Καλαυρίᾳ

Τὸ ἐπισκεύασε ὅπως πρὶν τὸ Ἡρῶον
μὲ τὰ κολονάκια καὶ τὰ κάγκελα,
στερέωσε τὸν ἀητό,
συμπλήρωσε τὴ φτερωτὴ οὐρὰ
καὶ τὸ σπασμένο ράμφος, τέλος
μὲ παντογράφο σμίλεψε σὲ ἐκμαγεῖο
τὸ ἀντίγραφο τοῦ ρήτορα.

Αὐτὸ ἔχουμε, μ’ αὐτὸ νὰ τὰ βγάλουμε πέρα.
Τὸ κεφάλι ἀποκολλήθηκε πολλὲς φορές·
ἐπὶ Μεταξᾶ τοῦ πετοῦσαν πέτρες μεθυσμένοι
τοὺς κλεῖσαν φυλακὴ τοὺς δράστες φυσικά,
ὅμως οἱ κόλλες ξεκόλλαγαν ξανὰ
κι ἔσπασε ἡ μύτη κι ὁ λαιμὸς
ἀπ’ τὶς πολλὲς τὶς πτώσεις.

Ὁ νησιώτης ἐξημερώνεται
ὁ βουνίσιος ἀγριεύει, θυμήσου το!

Ὁ τραχείτης συγκρατοῦσε τὴν προτομή—
ἀρχικὰ σὲ μάρμαρο Διονύσου, δωρεὰ
τοῦ ὑποναύαρχου Χατζηλουκᾶ πρὸς τὸν Δῆμο.

Στὸ τρίγωνο Φούσας-Μοναστηριοῦ
σκιαδοφόρο κώνειο κορώνει.

Liana Sakelliou has published eighteen books of poetry, criticism, and translation. Her poems have been translated into several languages and have been published in many anthologies and international journals. She teaches American literature and creative writing in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Athens.

Don Scofield has published five poetry collections, as well as an anthology of American poets in Greece and translations of contemporary Greek poets. He is the recipient of several awards, including a Writer-in-Resident fellowship at Princeton University. His translations have also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Image Credit: By Deglee Degi, “Consciousness” by Artist Ayurzana Ochirbold, the Winner of “Nord Art” visual art festival 2019

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