Vassiliki Rapti



(Greece – USA)






          For Vladimir Bošković


Greek –chirping birds



The veil οf illusion

They reveal

 the immobility

 of things.




Kores or A Murmur of the Heart on the Embittered Marbles



Your limps and lyrics belong to me.

Out of my own sweat and breath

I weaved you.

Your thread is the ichor that always flows through the cracks of my mind.



the first to leap in the light

Look there: Labito, Izampo and Melano

slowly dragging the elegiac dance

around the embittered marbles.

And I threw myself into a crazy dance

that only the wind can recognize

whirling my long tresses

like a golden beetle

searching for honey.

And I kept hiding

behind the embittered marbles.

For every smile and tear of mine

a bitter grape on the lips of Melano and Ino.


out of seaweeds I sculpted you

and mineral essence of Parian marble.

With tears I anointed you

from the saltiness of the Aegean.


Dewey now

in my memory

I look for all of you

I, Penelope, Damon and Phidias.

With patience and faith I weave through time

the gentle web of memory.

With a murmur of the heart within me now I cry out:

“My Destiny is always to caw:

But, where has your beauty sunk?



*Note: This poem was translated from the Greek into English in the frame of the Advanced Training of  Greek Poetry Translation and Performance Workshop at Harvard.






A myriad of rays-needles

Meet at the point of the heart.

They bathe it with light

They infuse it with oxygen

They fill it with breath

They string it between two extremes

They measure its resistance

They pierce it

They fill it with anger

They knead  it with

A dazzling, angelic, embittered





Notes in the Margins of Time


Follow your own rhythms, my reader, without a “take-give” measure at all.

There is no rush.

We are here restoring our memories of the past recalling our beauty, our youth, our life,

illustrated in an ancient marble statue, full of mystery.


I know many hidden thoughts in everyone’s mind intermingle with dreams and dust.

I know we get used to transforming our solitude in contemplation and convincing ourselves that l’amour est la seule realité, love is le seul espoir dans la vie, indeed, the only hope in one’s life my reader, my companion.


Hence we see l’harmonie des feuilles vertes dans le brouillard du printemps, the harmony of the green leaves in the spring mists, evoking happy memories of childhood while at moments of solitude we burn our illusory dreams, seeking blue nuances of serenity, asserting that man builds up his own destiny.

At times we admit we transform matter into spirit through agape, we reach heavens through love. That is why I used to ask you to draw above my brow small spots of signs

to correspond harmoniously with the stars to read in everything the sacred



Sometimes, like solitary beasts in hidden tender hearts we lack identity.

Again and again we whisper meaningless names to build up ourselves. Lost among crowds of people, absurdities, fears, habits, and a thousand of compromises, we are labeled “the modern men.”


At moments we utter “I am someone,” “I am no one,” “I am something,” or rather “I am nothing,” without surpassing the immanent dichotomy of the self. We claim: “Our purpose is to have no purpose. Our aim is to be given to Chance.”


Besides, is it accidental to live or to die? Let’s offer ourselves to chance, since, I remind you, man needs only a cup of wine and a small piece of

kindness. Because dreams never stop. They hiss and hit pitilessly at night, living testimonies of “elsewhere.”


I do believe it, when I think of some waves of wild flowers in prairies. We know intuitively we will soon wither longing for nostalgia. In such moments of weakness, I pray for salvation.





For Eleni of The Weeping Meadow by Theo Angelopoulos


The red thread spool


a threat



the thread of

your deep red guts



the threshold

of the

umbilical cord.


Visceral testimony.








Denial of separation

A walking jombie within you



A vibrant corpse illuminates you for

ever till lost in the oceanic feeling of bliss.

My mo(u)rning play





« Train whistles … « 


Over there, in Larissa at the goal post for Volos you marched between the train rails a summer afternoon playing with the unknown. Playing with the rails in search of equilibrium, traveling, going…  Everyone a line …  and you continued your own line when you started making movies.


Juggling on the same rails of your memory this time you would still regain your balance through the existential remorse of your characters. All together a skein … trails, tragic, broken souls in the aftermath of the train whistles. Losses, large and small, unbearable grief still hammers mercilessly.


And I myself, there I was, somewhere in between Volos and Larisa trailing mentally my own line. Over there I saw for the first time the rails of trains leaving and taking with them my father on the way to the factories of West Germany. There and our Kiki was, our elder sister, waving goodbye to our dad, without knowing (alas!) that just right ther, beside the future trains, she would leave her last breath. Just there, her own snoring would become one with the whistling of trains…


And now? And now there are only remaining the song and the sweet memory of their faces, of Panagiotis, Christos, Kiki , the other Christos … and as we are seeking them, another kind of longing empowers us with an inexplicable urge to tomorrow, with the sweet promise of another perspective.











Vassiliki Rapti



is Preceptor in Modern Greek at Harvard University, where she teaches Modern Greek language, literature, theatre and Greek cinema. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with an Emphasis in Drama from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006 and she holds a D.E.A. in Greek Studies from the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne (D.E.A., 1993) and a M.A. in English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis (2000). She is the author of Ludics in Surrealist Theatre and Beyond (Ashgate, 2013) and co-founder and co-editor of the Washington University journal Theatron (2002-2004). She is also co-founder and co-chair of the current research Seminar Ludics at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard and director of the Advanced Training in Greek Poetry Translation and Performance Workshop at Harvard.


Her scholarly publications and research  interests center upon comparative literature, avant-garde theatre and performance, especially Surrealist drama and the poetics of play and games, creative writing, poetry writing and poetry translation  theory. Her articles and poems have appeared, among others, in Text and Presentation (2004 , 2005 & 2014), Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Charioteer, Scientific Journals International ,Eliot Review, Νέα Σκέψις (New Thought), Αιολικά Γράμματα (Aeolian Letters), and Dekata (upcoming). She is the author of three poetry collections, A Tear in the Ocean (1998, 2nd Prize of the annual Panhellenic Contest of the Literary Society Parnassos), Glossopaidies: Language(s) Games and Transitorium. For her research and teaching she has received numerous awards, grants, and distinctions. Her poetry is animated by the ludic spirit and is imbued by surrealist imagery in an attempt to capture the intrusion of the marvelous in everyday life yet it strives for simplicity in diction.

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