Featured Poem


Translated from Arvanitika

I had a dream last night,
I saw a woman with wild eyes,
in her left arm she held an infant,
in her right hand a double-edged sword.
She glared at me and said,
‘Why have you forgotten me?’
And I asked in wonder,
‘Who are you? I know I have seen you somewhere.’
‘I am one of the women a foreign man
captured with paint on a canvas
so that I can be seen by generations to come.
My own people have forgotten me,
cast me aside, and now seek to bury me.
But you? Why did you forget me?’
‘You must be one of the women of Souli
who, to keep your honour from the enemy,
took your children in your arms
and singing ‘Farewell, poor world’,
and dancing our ancient dances,
threw yourselves and your children from the rocks,
writing sacrifice and history.
Women of Souli and Zalongu, rise!
Leave the blood you shed as icons on the rocks
so that our unborn generations can pray to them.
Take your infants, now grown, and fly high into the air,
above the clouds and between the stars
so all the world can see you,
and dance once more our ancient dances,
and show this world of misery the worth of honour
and freedom that can only be bought with blood and sacrifice.
Rise, rise, rise!’

» Comment on this translation 11 comment(s)

Listen to this poem:
About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Yorgos Soukoulis
Peter Constantine
Original language:
Series 3 Number 16 - The Dialect of the Tribe

Original poem

About the authors


Yorgos Soukoulis

Yorgos Soukoulis, born in 1932 in the Corinthian mountain village of Agios Yiannis, is the first Arvanitika writer to break th...

» Read more


Peter Constantine

Peter Constantine's most recent translations are Sophocles' Three Theban Plays (Barnes & Noble Classics, 2008) and The Es...

» Read more


Πάσσι νιέ νίντερε, ντιέ μπρέμα.
Ισ’ νιέ γκρούα, μέ νιέ σσι τ’ έγκιρε.
Μπάι μέ ζερβένε ντόρε, ντιάλινε ντ’ αγκαλέ,
εδέ μέ τ’ ντιάθετινε, νιέ δικόπε θίκε.
Μ’ βισντόι μέ νιέ φιτίρε, τσ’ τ’ φρικιτόν,
εδέ μ’ θά, μούα ψέ μ’ χαρόβε?
Ε βισντόβα μέ φρίκε, εδέ μέ απορί ε πίειτα,
Τσίλια γιέ τί, ντίκου τ’ κάμε πάρε.
Γιάμε νιέ γκά ατό, τσ’ νιέ ι χούαϊ
μ’ βού μέ μπογιέ, ντέ νιέ πλιχούρε
πρ’ τ’ μ’ σιόχενε, ατά τσ’ ο’ βίνιενε
ψέ κίτα τάνετε, μ’ χαρούανε,
παστάι μ’ βιρβίνε, εδέ νάνι ντούανε τ΄μ’ κάουνινε.
Πό τί, ψέ μ’ χαρόβε?
Ο γιέσ εδέ τί, νιέ γκά ατό, γκράτε ε Σούλιτε
τσ’ πρ’ τ’ σπιτόνιτε τιμίνε γκά οχθρότε
ριμπίετε ντιέλτε τούαϊ, ντ’ αγκαλέ,
εδέ ντίκου κιντούαρε, κέ σιντέτε κόσμι ι καιμόιτε,
εδέ ντίκου λιούαρε, ατέ βάουενε ε Ζαλόγγουτε
ού βιρβίτε μπάσκε μέ ντιέλτε, γκά σκιμπίνιετε,
εδέ σκρούαιτιτε, τ’ μάδενε θισί εδέ ιστορί.
Γκράτε ε Σούλιτε ε Ζαλόγγουτε, γκρούννι.
Λίνι γκιάκιρατε τσ΄ ντέρδτε, κονίσμε ντ΄σκιμπίνιετε
πρ’ τ’ φάλενε, τ’ πά λέιτουριτε τσ’ αρούνε.
Μίρι ντιέλτε, τσ’ νάνι γιάνε μπίνε τρίμα,
εδέ βιρβίνε λιά, μπ’ λιά γκά ρέτε, πρίζε ντ’ ίλτε
πρ’ τ’ δινίσετε τ’ ού σιόχε, χέπ κόσμι
εδέ λίουανι, νιέ χέρε μέτα, ατέ βάουενε ε Ζαλόγγουτε,
εδέ φιρτίενι, κιτίατε παλιοκόσμιτε
σά βιλιένε, τιμία εδέ λεφτερία
τσ’ σπαγγούχετε, μέ γκί,
βέτιμε μέ γκιάκε, εδέ θισί
Γκρούννι, γκρούννι, ΓΚΡΟΥΝΝΙ.


Literature Across Frontiers

1st Nov 2011

wow - I'm wondering bout that last bit: 'honour and freedom that can only be bought with blood and sacrifice' dark! ?

Mark Peterson

2nd Nov 2011

The historical aspect is very interesting and poignant, especially when you think of the histories that will be lost when the language is no longer spoken. Such a fate has befallen the Chumash people of southern California, for example.

christopher kontonikolis

2nd Nov 2011

I remember we were taught about this dance at school.

Symbols are eternal. A dance, a sword, a mother... This poem can speak to the heart of all of us.

Peter Constantine

2nd Nov 2011

I am particularly encouraged that a strong poetic voice, like that of Yorgos Soukoulis, is giving life to this beautiful and ancient language that is severely endangered. As Mark Peterson points out, when a language dies (and Arvanitika, like other autochthonous languages of Greece, is on the verge of extinction), its culture, myths, and histories often die as well.

Konstantinos Sampanis

2nd Nov 2011

Great poem, reflecting the heroic tradition of the Arvanites in Greece. It goes back to some basic, somehow ignored in our days, values.

Pietros Maneos

2nd Nov 2011

I love the impassioned heroism inherent in this poem, a trait so rare in modernity.

-Pietros Maneos

Eftychia Panayiotou

2nd Nov 2011

so all the world can see you...
(and feel you too)...
this is a great 'souliotiko' one...

Karen Emmerich

3rd Nov 2011

A wonderful treat to have the sound file for this poem. And how much it resonates of Solomos's "The Free Besieged"!

Stathis Baroutsos

5th Nov 2011

While everything gets more and more complicated in the world, pure simplicity is a tremendous relief. The sounds of Arvanitika, tragically a dying language, have a powerful musicality.

gertjan dardabella

16th Nov 2011

Arvanitika is the old version of Albanian language, so is not a dying language. if you talk with albanians from Epir espcially from Çameria will see that is the same old form of albanian

Peter Constantine

16th Nov 2011

Thank you for your interesting comment. In the old Arvanite villages of the Peloponnese and Central Greece, Arvanitika is now unfortunately only spoken well generally by those 70 and over. It is listed by UNESCO as a seriously endangered language.


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