Yannis Yfantis

Yannis Yfantis

Yannis Yfantis was born according to his willing in Raina (a valley of Etolia) thousands of years ago. He studied agriculture, cattle-breeding, the art of riding as well as astronomy and the art of weaving*.

When he was 22 years old he left his studies in Law in order to study undiverted the book of the World.

His published books are: Manthraspenta (1977), Mystics of the Orient (1982), Elder Edda (1983), The Mirror of Proteus (1986), Signs of Immortal Memory (1987), Poems Embroideries on the Skin of the Devil (1988), Temple of Cosmos (1996), The Garden of Poetry (2000), Archetypes (2001), The Ideogram of the Snake (2003), Love Unconquered in the Fight (2004), Transformations of Zero (2009), Under the Icon of the Stars (2013).

Many of his poems have been translated in English, French, Bulgarian, Italian, Russian, Spanish and, recently, in Arabic, Persian, Chinese, German, Finnish, and Serbian.

Although he believes that the books are made by themselves, he received, unexpectedly, for them, the Cavafis Prize for 1995 in Cairo.

* Yfantis means weaver


Living in mountain places you knew the snow.
And you went to that school where only fairies go.
You saw the trout – excitement and joy – jump
in the waterfalls, shining around the precipices.
You saw the flocks return in Spring from sea places and the mules
loaded with salt and purple and shepherd snails.
You heard cocks fall into bottomless wells
to bring dawn in the upper world.
You jumped over the viper and from your terror your piss
suddenly became a rainbow.

We came from the same galaxy but they sent you there to learn
in the mountains and they sent me in the valley of Raina.
And when we met again, we loved each other with that
passion of those who are hurrying very much, so much, lest they
              won’t make it,
lest the universe is torn in two and they separate
again for an eternity. You couldn’t endure it, I couldn’t
endure again our separation with Erebus
between us. We would fall in it and become comets, but,
we don’t want these grandeurs.
We want to be that simple and exquisite
that is a man and a woman, who come together and
separate incessantly and so breaths the cosmos of Heraclitus.

Oh Ourania, crown me with the branches of your hands
let me, weeping, kiss your eyes, your breasts, your feet,
and then, when I arrive in the darkness
between your thighs, let me enter in your rosy flower.
And when the cries of Euphrosyne and deliverance calm down
and when the floors are full of liquids and sperm
let your womanly bridal laugh echo inside my home
and I shall pick for you on a shiny tray
all the range of the wild perfumes of my yard.
Cold water, clean towel, and mature figs I shall bring for you to taste.
And after, you will lie down, ah, to sleep, in the cleanest sheets,
              to sleep, and rest, you,
who are coming from so far away to find me,
putting aside
the thousand fogs of Wales.

© Translation by Ourania Yfanti


Now that you are going to your village, you will pass
The comet’s lake, you’ll pass
Cleopatra’s Canal and as you arrive
in Aktion remember how, think how they lost
the naval-battle that they had won.

That while they were winning
from that distrust of Cleopatra, who set off on the way back,
they were found losers. One little
mistake, an illusion
changed however the map of the world.

And after, when you reach Acheron
do not follow it, do not stand
by its wet banks where lotuses grow
with a beauty that is invincible.

(They’re from the seeds that fell when Sappho passed from there
– they fell from her handkerchief or some poem of hers –
and with the sweetest perfume there they always grow
nostalgically adorning the terrible river.)

Go to the places of Epirus, enjoy the uphill road that leads to Ioannina.
Though do not enter Ioannina, leave, go past the lake
which is the watery grave of Euphrosyne
where the Ripper drowned her when incarnated he built
his serai on the Island of the Lake.

Go right, towards your sacred places
the Macedonian ones, and following
the paths of the eagle, the roe-deer and the hare,
travel to your beautiful snowy mountains.

And seated by your parents’ fireplace
look through the window to see
the Big Bear followed by the Little one,
who came down – look at them having come down like you –
from the sky, to walk on your village’s paths.
But at night, when those return to their positions, you, you stay.

To eat, to drink and celebrate everything there,
to listen the grandma fire, to revel in the snow.

And to come again. Following love’s tracks,
bringing honey, chestnuts, walnuts, mushrooms,
pomegranates and figs, raki and the perfect wine,
you, my muse, my fairy, my worshipped nymph
again to your Pan come, with that perfume of yours …
Ah Gate of Elysium, covered by forest,
of goat you smell and young shoot, as you are wet.

© Translation by Ourania Yfanti

For other contributions by Yannis Yfantis, please follow the links below:

Published with the permission of Yannis Yfantis & Ourania Yfanti