Kostas Myrsiades

Kostas Myrsiades

Dr. Kostas Myrsiades, professor of Comparative Literature at West Chester University, is a distinguished translator and neohellenist and the first American to receive the Gold Medallion (1995) for his translations from the Hellenic Society of Translators of Literature given annually by the Greek government to a scholar from any country.

His work in Greek letters is not only demonstrated in his 19 published books and numerous articles on modern and ancient Greek literature but also in the many invited lectures he has delivered for such groups as the Jane Globus Seminar Series Lecture at Baruch College, the Elytis Chair Lecture Series of Poetry and Neohellenic Studies at Rutgers, and the Embassy of Greece/National Library of Canada Lecture at Ottawa.

He is the editor of College Literature, a quarterly of literary criticism, theory, and pedagogy, which since 1990 has been the recipient of eight awards from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals including the Phoenix Award for distinguished editorial achievement. Professor Myrsiades also co-edits the Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora, one of the leading journals in neohellenic studies.

 

ODYSSEUS AND PENELOPE SECRETELY
PLOT AGAINST THE SUITORS

(FOR LINDA)

And may the gods accomplish your desire:
a home, a husband, and harmonious converse
with him– the best thing in the
world being a strong house held in
serenity where man and wife agree. Woe
to their enemies, joy to their friends!
But all this they know best.
Odyssey, VI, Tr. by Richmond Lattimore

True revolutions
are ignited by consenting minds
erupting spontaneously
whenever eye meets eye
as when Penelope before the beggar caught Odysseus’s eye.

“Stranger,” she said
“I shall decree a contest on this day.
One arrow must each suitor whip through twelve ax heads;
something only my lord can do.”

The beggar relaxed his eyes.

“Let there be no postponement of this trial.
Death to the suitors, lady, not one will escape his doom.”

Their gazes touched once again
and both Odysseus and Penelope

knew.

 
SAMOS’S MODERN OLYMPIANS

Saints rarely toil.

They loaf in solitude
in small asbestos chapels
waiting each twilight some peasant’s offering
to fill the single oil lamps that hang before their icons.

Once each year a priest arrives
to flatter them with praise.

Alone again,
they play backgammon
and lay in wait for passers-by,
periodically tip-toeing outside

(to piss behind the chapel wall).

 
THE HOUSE IN VOURLIOTES

The saints in their wooden casings
looked stern above the stained bedsheets
(which smelled of urine)
next to the asbestos-white fireplace.

Only the droning of the rain
beat on the wood window shutters
and on the tin awning of the outer door.

On the village square,
iconic figures sipped ouzo
and eyeballed a young blond tourist
who crossed her legs
to expose a dozen fleshy thighs.

From the cafes
the sirens beckoned
with the smell of resin wine
and the beguiling sounds of bubbling
narghiles.

 
   A PAEAN TO SISYPHUS, A SAMIAN
PEASANT LABORING IN HIS VINEYARD

(FOR MY FATHER)

He rides his donkey up and down,
   fated to ceaseless toil in a land of rock and
   vines,

Wrinkled
   like grapes bathed in soot
   and spread on sheets to dry upon an oven
   earth.

Obsessed
   by a vineyard made fertile on human flesh.

Dismembered
   by yellow scorpions which suck on his life’s
   wine.

 

 
All poems on this post: © Kostas Myrsiades
From: Others Must Dance for the Lord Dionysus Now
a Poetic Memoir by KOSTAS MYRSIADES,
Pella Publishing Company, Inc. New York 1993
Published with the permission of Kostas Myrsiades