William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Four Short Poems in Greek Translation

The poems offered here are from my book of sixty-four short poems, Another Song I Know, published by Cosmopsis Books in 2007. The translations and transliterations are the generous, fine work of poet and friend, Vassilis Zambaras, author of numerous poems, as well as Sentences, Aural, Triptych, and other collections.

Vassilis and I met online in the blog world in 2008. Within days, I felt we’d known each other for years — if not from childhood, then maybe from another life. Such is the miracle of words.

Later that same year, after reading a copy of the book I’d sent him in Meligalas, he surprised me with the following translations, which I subsequently shared on Recently Banned Literature. For friendship, for the record, and for the treasure they remain, I will preserve them here, along with this wise poem of his from Sentences:

Poetry Lesson

And yet, we know something of bitterness —
this draining out of love in syllables
teaches us, among other things, silence
and how to talk our way around it.



Ah! Now I’ve done it.
But please, don’t save me yet.
I want to feel this way
a little longer.


Ωχ! Τώρα τη πάτησα.
Μα παρακαλώ, μη με σώζεις ακόμα.
Να νιώθω έτσι θέλω
λίγο ακόμα.


Oh! Tόra tee pάtisa.
Ma parakalό, mee me sόzis akόma.
Na niόtho έtsi thέlo
lίgho akόma.



Seeds (ΣΠΟΡΙΑ)

While my mother
drinks her tea,
I eat a tangerine.

My dish is full
of pale-hard seeds.

She tells me
I should plant them.

I see her in a garden
on her knees,
waiting, looking down.


Καθώς η μάνα μου
πίνει το τσάι της,
τρώω ένα μανταρίνι.

Το πιάτο μου γεμάτο
χλωμά σκληρά σπόρια.

Μου λέει
πρέπει να τα σπείρω.

Την βλέπω σ’ ένα κήπο
να περιμένει, και να κοιτάζει


Kathόs e mάnna mou
pinei to tsάee tis,
trόο έna mandarίni.

To piάτο mou gemάto
hlomά sklirά spόria.

Mou lέi
prέpei na ta spίro.

Tin vlέpo sέna kίpo
Na perimέni, ke na kitάzi



Love (ΑΓΑΠΗ)

A gentle hand
that remembers
where it’s been.


Ένα τρυφερό χέρι
που θυμάται
πού έχει πάει.


Έna triferό hέri
pou theemάte
pou έhee pάee.



Sorrow (ΛΥΠΗ)

The song of the wind
as it scatters
cold, pale ashes.


Το τραγούδι του ανέμου
καθώς σκορπίζει
κρύα, χλωμή στάχτη.


To traghoύdhi tou anέmou
κathόs skorpίzi
κrίa, hlomί stάhti.


Greek translations and transliterations © 2008 by Vassilis Zambaras.

Vowel pronunciation guide: i as in letter “e”; e as in “eh” — without “h” sound; a as in “ma”; o as in “OK”; ou as in “balloon”.


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Categories: Another Song I Know, Recently Banned Literature, Translations

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