Zoe Karelli--Greek

Zoe Karelli
(1901-1998)

 

Chryssoula Argiriadou wrote under the pen-name of Zoe Karelli.  Born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1901, Karelli is one of Greece’s favorite poets.  Her work speaks to the hard questions of life, but is filled with an optimistic sense of hope.  Karelli is viewed as a pioneer feminist in Greece.  Her writing career begun as a writer of short stories.  She published ten collections of poetry.  Karelli was the first woman of letters to be elected to the Academy of Athens in 1982, and received the coveted Ouranis Award for her complete works in 1978.  She died in her beloved Thessaloniki in 1998 at the age of 96.

  

 

Exhumation

They made packages of the human presence,

whatever remained of their bodies,

to return them to their native land.

One name one date is what is left

of the young man who stood erect,

in the light of life, who laughed,

or remained thoughtful, when he was sad.

He may have been insignificant in his life.

He had the idea he could die for duty.
 
But life is so beautiful,

beyond the cruelest struggle beauty exists

that we may live, in girlhood resembling a flower,

in young manhood a strong tree.

I hesitate, that I am so sad

and I lament the destruction of human beings.

The clank of courage must be strong to be heard,

for us to put the dead behind us,

for us to cross over the bend.

Brothers, I can tell you with passion

and a loud voice life invites us to forget death.

(of others or our own?). 

Let us comprehend submission,  

a good solution, for us to know fortitude,

to attempt extra courage on our march.

I think of the human presence,

That awakens so much love,

Pains and feelings, passions

That is strength and beauty

Then remains a faceless shadow.
 
Translated by Rae Dalven