HEADS OF SATYRS*

 

“I did only Satyrs. I wanted to stop that sarcastic laughter

that made me go mad.”

 

Yannoulis Halepas, 1878

 

 

I have every right to be alone

– a minute presence –

I alone have every right

to observe

the well-crafted volumes

the black grimaces on this marble.

I want to understand

(try to understand)

what it is that hastens to give the brain its freedom

what – in extreme refinement –

it is that asks the brain to give back its freedom

the whole story

the scenario and the hammer.

 

The artist tried to do this.

It is 1878.

The Acropolis exists.

This country exists (exists?)

under observation” –  be it so –

and “in deteriorating condition

the face filtered through the wrinkles

(he might almost guess the agitated movements passing by

the holograms on this marble)

 

Whatever exists will be destroyed

 

every single clay model

every single study

the soul exposed 

to this impulsiveness

overwhelming the empty air (empty?)

the air filled with empty agitation

don’t turn around/don’t believe it/don’t deceive your mind with ghosts of this kind

 

I have every right to be alone

I alone have every right

to observe

this face

the laugh on this face

eroding consciousness

projected elastic

the whole face a laugh

drenching/         years now/        the mind/           bending it

to the point of utter resistance

where only the wind can bend.

 

The world becomes smaller and smaller - almost empty.

(what is the true primal essence of things)

The mind stops resisting.

The hands remain inert.

 

I have every right to be alone.

I want to stop this laughter.

I want to hear beyond it.

                                                                                              Translated by Richard Pierce

 

 * In the winter of 1877-1878 the famous Greek sculptor Yannoulis Chalepas suffered from a severe nervous breakdown: he destroyed hundreds of clay models, studies and sculptures, mainly of heads of Satyrs. He was put ‘under observation’ and, ultimately, sent to Italy to recover. He soon returned to Greece to study the sculpture of the Acropolis.