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BOOKS INBRIEF 111 BOOKSINBRIEF Yannis Ritsos. Chronicle ofExile, tr. Minas Sawas. Foreward by Louis Aragon. Wire Press: P.O. Box 14217, San Francisco, CA 94114, 1977, 93pp. $2.95 Neruda, Hikmet, and MacDiarmid are well known in the country. Ritsos, for some reason, is not. The problem may be lack of interested translators. I can't judge the quality of these poems as translations, but some of them are—as poems in English—quite unusual. Here is "Satisfaction": Huge vehicles passed over the bridge. The stable was empty. The woman came out holding the dead horse's rope; she tied one end to the tree; the other end to her leg. She sat on the chair, and carefully pulled down her dress lest they see that she was fastened. The exact nature of the situation is not clear to me, but as an image ofdistress it is intense. Ritsos' more typical poems connect more directly with the political life he has known as a frequent enemy of the Greek state, usually as directly experienced. This is "Traces": Outside the yard-rail the soldiers were passing by. Inside, the trees stretched out their shadows and sparks from the moon's moisture fell on the marble benches. Helen stood motionless behind the huge lilies. And suddenly gunshots were heard from the adjacent terrace. Helen left hastily stepping on the lilies. In the house across the street the lights at once went out. Someone was throwing armchairs into the yard and a sheet that was slow in falling suspended there meteorically, caught on a tree branch like a woman hung on her wedding night. The English here is a little awkward, but the strength of the poem can still be felt. ...


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