Yannis Ritsos


Twice nominated for the Nobel Prize, Ritsos won the Lenin Peace Prize, the former Soviet Union's highest literary honor, as well as numerous literary prizes from across Eastern Europe prior to his death in 1990. Because his writing was frequently political in nature, Ritsos endured periods of persecution from his political foes. One of his most celebrated works, the "Epitaphios," a lament inspired by the assassination of a worker in a large general strike in Salonica, was burned by the Metaxas dictatorship, along with other books, in a ceremony enacted in front of the Temple of Zeus in 1936. After World War II and the annihilation of Greece's National Resistance Movement—a Communist guerrilla organization that attempted to take over the country in a five-year civil war—Ritsos was exiled for four years to the islands of Lemnos, Makronisos, and Ayios Efstratios. His books were banned until 1954. In 1967, when army colonels staged a coup and took over Greece, Ritsos was again deported, then held under house arrest until 1970. His works were again banned. Many critics rank Ritsos' less political poems as his best work. George Economou, writing in the New York Times Book Review, stated that "in the short poems, most of which are not overtly political, Ritsos is full of surprises. He records, at times celebrates, the enigmatic, the irrational, the mysterious and invisible qualities of experience." Source

In the Rain

translated from Greek by Kostas Myrsiades


He walks in the rain. He’s in no hurry at all.

The drenched railing glistens. The trees

are black with a hidden red. An old

bus tire is discarded in the sheepfold.

The blue house is significantly bluer.

So that’s how nothingness is lessened. Rocks fall.

Hands clench. An unused envelope

floats in the river. Perhaps your name is written on the other side.






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Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


The use of multiple words with the same root in different forms.


a word, object, action, character, or concept that embodies and evokes a range of additional meaning and significance.