Three poems by Al.Baras translated into english


A poem by Alexandros Baras (1906-1990)

An old ruin of a ship

I saw her leaning on her side

Her ribs were eaten by rust

Her rudder out of the water

Bitten, broken

By an unknown sea monster

Such a poor ruin of a ship…

And yet – who would have believed it?

From her tilting funnel it seemed

Some smoke was slowly rising

A wisp, thinly dispersing

(In the bowels of the wreck there was hidden

A final spark; and possibly, possibly

She was dreaming of voyages still to come

Perhaps she was falling asleep in hope

Of escaping the evening boredom of the docks…)

I looked at her, and I thought, despite myself

Of men also battered and bruised

Whom life has imperceptibly consumed

So many parallels came into my mind ...

Syntheses, Second book, 1938- Collection, 1933, Poetry 1983, Kedros Publishers



A poem by Alexandros Baras (1906-1990)

Every week,

On the stated day

Always at the same time

Three beautiful ships

The “Cleopatra”,the “Semiramis”and the “Theodora”

Leave the quay

At nine o’ clock, always

To Piraeus

To Brindisi and Trieste


Without zigging and zagging

Without hesitation

Or useless hooting

They turn their prows to the open sea

The “Cleopatra”,the “Semiramis”and the “Theodora”

Like well-bred people

Leaving a drawing room

Without tasteless

Needless handshakes
They leave the quay

At nine o’clock

Always to Piraeus

To Brindisi, to Trieste

Always –be it the weather hot or cold

They go

To smudge the blue

Of Aegean and Mediterranean

With their smoke

They go to spread stones of topaz

With their lights on the water

At night.

They set sail

Always with persons and luggage…

The “Cleopatra”,the “Semiramis”and the “Theodora”

For so many years now

Follow the same route

Arriving on the same day

Leaving at the same time.

They look like office clerks

Who have become chronometers

If one day they did not go through

Their office door

It might collapse.

(When the route is always the same

Be it the entire Mediterannean

or just from home to another place)

The “Cleopatra”, the “Semiramis” and the “Theodora”

For years and years

Feel the tyranny of boredom

Always following the same route

Always calling at the same ports.

If I were the captain,

yes – si j’étais roi !–

If I were the captain

Of the “Cleopatra”, of the “Semiramis”, of the “Theodora”

If I were the captain

With my four gold stripes

If I had been left on this same line

For so many years,

During a moonlit night

In the middle of the sea

I would climb to the topmost deck

And as the music played on

In the first class hall saloon

I, in my grand uniform

With the gold stripes

And my gold medals

Would trace a harmonious curve

Falling from the topmost deck

Into the water

With all my gold insignia

Like a shooting star

A hero of an unexplained death.


From “Poems 1933-1953”

Translated from the Greek by Lionel Scott and Lito Seizani




A poem by Alexandros Baras (1906-1990)



At Phanari, in Smyrna, on Syros

You have always attracted my attention, 

You small bronze hands for knocking

on the front doors of quiet houses.


those who shaped you made you hold

a tiny ball the size of a cherry plum.

Always polished, ever waiting.

The street is quiet.

Soon someone will appear

On the deserted seafront of an island

marbled in the moonlight,

Walking alone in the deep night,

I with my ears pricked was trying

to listen to God.


The doors of the houses were shut,

angels of silence were sitting on the thresholds.


From “Poems 1933-1953”

Translated from the Greek by Lionel Scott and Lito Seizani