The bell

Kimon and Myrtias

The bell

Who was it that hung (and when?) this black bell precisely above the table,
in the middle of the ceiling? – was it months ago? was it years?
Bent over our plate, we hadn’t seen it. Never did we raise
our heads, not even a little, what would the purpose be? Yet, now,
we know; it’s there, immovable. Who was the first to see it? who told us,
for none of us speaks? Perhaps, one night, following the glass,
draining the last drop of wine, through the empty
cloudy glass, our eyes caught a glimpse of it. We bent our heads down instantly
even more. Hungry or not, we eat: always expecting,
at any time now, a giant, invisible hand to toll the bell
nine or twelve times or one and lone, lone in its vastness, lone in its indiscipline,
while, we are already counting within, lest we happen at least upon the tolls.

Translated by Myrtias, a Syrian student in Alexandria

The bell

Who was it that hung (and when?) this black bell, from the centre of the ceiling,
right above the table? – has it been months? years?
Bent down over our plates, we hadn’t seen it. We never raised
our heads higher, not even a bit – after all, what would the purpose be? But, now,
we know; it is there, immovable. I wonder, who was it that first saw it? who told us,
considering none of us speak? Perhaps, one night, staring down the glass,
draining the last drop of wine, through the empty
cloudy glass, it caught our eye. We bent down in a start,
even lower over our plates. Hungry, or not, we eat; always waiting,
from moment to moment, for a large invisible hand to strike the bell
nine or twelve times, or one and only, eternally solitary, unwaveringly solitary,
while, within us, we are already counting, lest we at least happen upon the tolls.

Translated by Kimon, a student of Greek Literature in Kirini.

Η καμπάνα

Ποιὸς ἦταν ποὺ κρέμασε (καὶ πότε;) πάνω ἀκριβῶς ἀπ᾿ τὸ τραπέζι
καταμεσὶς στὸ ταβάνι, αὐτὴ τὴ μαύρη καμπάνα; - πρὶν μῆνες; πρὶν χρόνια;
Σκυμμένοι στὸ πιάτο μας, δὲν τὴν εἴχαμε δεῖ. Ποτὲ δὲ σηκώσαμε
λίγο πιὸ πάνω τὸ κεφάλι, - ποιὸς ὁ λόγος ἄλλωστε; Μά, τώρα,
τὸ ξέρουμε· εἶναι ἐκεῖ, ἀμετάθετη. Ποιὸς τάχα τὴν πρωτό ῾δε; ποιὸς μᾶς τό ῾πε
ἀφοῦ κανείς μας δὲ μιλάει; Ἴσως, μιὰ νύχτα, ἀκολουθώντας τὸ ποτήρι,
στραγγίζοντας τὴν τελευταία σταγόνα τοῦ κρασιοῦ, μέσ᾿ ἀπ᾿ τὸ ἄδειο
θαμπωμένο ποτήρι, νὰ τὴν πῆρε τὸ μάτι μας. Σκύψαμε ἀμέσως
ἀκόμη πιὸ πολύ. Πεινᾶμε, δὲν πεινᾶμε, τρῶμε· περιμένοντας πάντα,
ἀπὸ στιγμὴ σὲ στιγμή, ἕνα μεγάλο ἀόρατο χέρι νὰ χτυπήσει τὴν καμπάνα
ἐννέα ἢ δώδεκα φορὲς ἢ μία καὶ μόνη, ἀπέραντα μόνη, ἀπειθάρχητα μόνη,
ἐνῷ, ἀπὸ μέσα μας, μετρᾶμε κιόλας, μήπως συμπέσουμε τουλάχιστον στοὺς χτύπους.

Γιάννης Ρίτσος
(Yiannis Ritsos)

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