Epitaphios – Yiannis Ritsos (Bilingual)

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Φιλῶ τὸ παγωμένο σου χειλάκι ποὺ σωπαίνει κ’ εἶναι σὰ νὰ μοῦ θύμωσε καὶ σφαλιγμένο μένει.

To your sweet lip I give a kiss. It’s ice-cold and dead still, As if it were enraged with me, so firmly clenched and tight.

On 10 May 1936 the 27-year old Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos saw a newspaper photograph of a woman weeping over the body of her son, a Thessaloniki tobacco-factory worker killed by police during a strike. Two days later the Communist Party newspaper Rizospastis published a long poem by Ritsos. Dedicated ‘to the heroic workers of Thessaloniki’ and drawing on the sixth-century Greek Orthodox Epitaphios Thrinos, the poem combines Mary’s lament at Christ’s tomb with popular Greek folk traditions of resurrection and Spring to create a universal lament sung by every bereaved mother ‘who sits and mourns on the blood-stained street with her heart flayed, her wing broken.’ Although Epitaphios was banned in Greece for many years, in the 1950s an expanded version of the poem was set to music by Mikis Theodorakis and recorded by Nana Mouskouri. This is the first time Epitaphios has been published in book form in English.


Pages 60
Publication Date 2014
Publisher Smokestack Books
ISBN 9780992740962
Binding Paperback
Author Yiannis Ritsos / Rick Newton
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