Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cheerful Morning Madness

Yannis Ritsos

The tall yellow flower vase, the black servant figurine,
the basket with letters, the hand-pump with insecticide,
the cabinet filled with toys and games, ten dolls—
one must have a bit of a headache—it's holding its forehead;
the red dog, the deer with a swallow's nest
lodged in its antlers; the shopping bag with apples;
the blue shirt on the chair's shoulder;
the odor of coffee rising up from the street;
the toy soldier with the drum; the white linen sheets
sending out signals.
Quietly the curtains part,
in floats a boat; it moors alongside the bed.
Outside, from the sea-shore, the voices of fishermen are heard,
the laughter of young swimmers. Somewhere around here
a small prankster is hiding with a mirror
casting gleams of the sun onto the objects,
onto a table leg, onto the little cup, onto the drinking glass,
onto the large wall calendar, where it lingers cheerfully
on the 5th day of September, right next to Eri's yellow teddy bear.

from Small Dedications (1960-1965) [Collected Poems Delta' -- pg 138]

This poem is a good example of Ritsos' use of a catalog or list—what Amy Mims has wonderfully termed his "objectitis." The date is curious and probably significant. It is not Eri's birthday nor Ritsos', perhaps it's just a sly way to get a date into a book of poems that is, atypically for Ritsos, undated.

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