the one who builds a small home
and says I’m happy here.
Resist the one who returns home again
and says Glory be to God.
the Persian carpets in apartments
the little man in the office
the ‘imports-exports’ business
government education
myself even, the one telling you this.

the one who salutes the processions
for countless hours from the podium
the barren woman who gives away
prints of saints, incense and myrrh
myself even, the one telling you this.

Resist also all those who are called great
the president of the Court of Appeal resist
the bands, the drums and the parades
all the high conventions where they babble
and delegates and advisers drink coffee
all those who write speeches about the present age
in front of the heater in winter
flatteries, blessings and so many bows
from pen-pushers and cowards for their wise leader.

Resist the immigration and passport bureaus
the frightful flags of states and diplomacy
war weapons factories
those who regard nice words as lyricism
battle songs
soppy songs with their laments
the wind
all those who are indifferent or wise
those who pretend to be our friends
and even me, the one telling you this, resist me also.
Then we can confidently approach Freedom.


Before my testament was read
– as it was read –
it was a lively upright horse.
Before it was read
it was not the heirs in waiting
but the usurpers who trespassed upon the land.

This testament I have written for you
was buried deep for years
by crafty clerks and notaries.

They altered important phrases
bent over it for hours with fright
wiping out parts with rivers
the new clamour in the woods
the wind they killed –
now I finally understand what I lost
who it is that silences.

And what about you
standing there mute, having abdicated
your voice
your food
your horse
your house
standing there hideously mute like a dead man:

Freedom mutilated again they promise you.


*Translated by N.N. Trakakis, and published in “Antipodes” 2015, annual literary journal of Greek-Australian Cultural League of Melbourne.

Mihalis Katsaros (1921 -1998): postwar poet and painter, born in Kyparissia, Peloponnesus. The above poem is included in Katsaros collection, Against the Sadducees, published in 1953. The poem first appeared in the newspaper, Dimokratikos Typos (Democratic Press), on 8 October 1950 – however, it was published there in censored form. In protest against this censorship, Katsaros added the ‘Postscript’ to the poem. N.N. Trakakis gratefully acknowledges the permission of S.I. Zacharopoulos Publishing to publish this translation.


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