751. The First Rain, by Angelos Sikelianos

We leaned out of the window.
Everything around us
was one with our soul.
Sulphur-pale, the clouds
darkened the fields, the vines;
wind moaned in the trees
with a secret turbulence,
and the quick swallow went
breasting across the grass.
Suddenly the thunder broke,
the wellhead broke,
and dancing came the rain.
Dust leaped into the air.
We, our nostrils quivering,
opened our lips to drink
the earth's heavy smell,
to let it like a spring
water us deep inside
(the rain had already wet
our thirsting faces,
like the olive and the mullen).
And shoulder touching shoulder,
we asked: "What smell is this
that cuts the air like a bee?
From balsam, pine, acanthus,
from osier or thyme?"
So many the scents that, breathing out,
I became a lyre caressed
by the breath's profusion.
Sweetness filled my palate;
and as our eyes met again
all my blood sang out.
I bent down to the vine,
its leaves shaking, to drink
its honey and its flower;
and—my thoughts like heavy grapes,
bramble-thick my breath—
I could not, as I breathed,
choose among the scents,
but culled them all, and drank them
as one drinks joy or sorrow
suddenly sent by fate;
I drank them all,
and when I touched your waist,
my blood became a nightingale,
became like the running waters.

(trans Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)

Source: Angelos Sikelianos: Selected Poems

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