by Yannis Ritsos
translated and introduction by Rick M. Newton
Yannis Ritsos (born 1909), Greece’s most prolific and widely-read contemporary poet, is known well beyond Greek borders. Composing poetry from childhood, he has published over 5,000 pages of verse, much of it inspired by the numerous political upheavals which his country has suffered throughout the twentieth century. A victim of two lengthy exiles, he has experienced rejection first-hand. But cheering crowds have welcomed him back to Athens, escorting him—as he writes—to “the front-row seats” of public theaters. In 3X111 Tristichs
, published in 1987, Ritsos looks back on this life of extremes with a poet’s perspective and composes 999 lines of haiku-like verse. With the mysticism of numbers and the directness of simple, non-rhetorical language, he evokes images from the Greek landscape, blending them with the music of verse into a philosophic consistency.
English and Greek