Academic journal article Hecate

Monemvasia: In Memory of Yannis Ristos

Academic journal article Hecate

Monemvasia: In Memory of Yannis Ristos

Article excerpt

Below red cliffs silk-starred with native cyclamen in early spring, the city's entrance narrows to a needle's eye, a vaulted alley. By the west rampart the house with fading burnt siena walls, rust in the balcony's wrought iron, poet and siblings gone. A bronze bust in the courtyard gazing sightlessly toward the sea, in life his muse gave tongues to sky water stone mortality. The Byzantine citadel that crowned the rock's rough sanguine dome harboured bishops corsairs widows courtesans and poetry.

The poet Ritsos heard their distant footfalls in the cobbled lanes strange voices in deserted rooms the walls' and bastions' muffled groans, listened to the skeins of sound spun out of time's conspiracies, the rasp as bluff met thorn and husk, the wind in its laboratory, the murmured memoirs of a time-warped city.

He sought his bitter truths amidst intransigent austerity: light and the frugal water, stone entered the marrow of his bones. Banished to the Colonels' hell of thirst he dreamed of freedom, grace, drawing upon the well he'd made, guarding the source of stubborn faith to seek coherence in the blind mess others called reality. …

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