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PAVESE, Cesare

Pensieri di Deola

Deola passa il mattino seduta al caffè

e nessuno la guarda. A quest’ora in città corron tutti

sotto il sole ancor fresco dell’alba. Non cerca nessuno

neanche Deola, ma fuma pacata e respira il mattino.

Fin che è stata in pensione, ha dovuto dormire a quest’ora

per rifarsi le forze: la stuoia sul letto

la sporcavano con le scarpacce soldati e operai,

i clienti che fiaccan la schiena. Ma, sole, è diverso:

si può fare un lavoro piú fine, con poca fatica.

Il signore di ieri, svegliandola presto,

l’ha baciata e condotta (mi fermerei, cara,

a Torino con te, se potessi) con sé alla stazione

a augurargli buon viaggio.

È intontita ma fresca stavolta,

e le piace esser libera, Deola, e bere il suo latte

e mangiare brioches. Stamattina è una mezza signora

e, se guarda i passanti, fa solo per non annoiarsi.

A quest’ora in pensione si dorme e c’è puzzo di chiuso

– la padrona va a spasso – è da stupide stare là dentro.

Per girare la sera i locali, ci vuole presenza

e in pensione, a trent’anni, quel po’ che ne resta, si è perso.

Deola siede mostrando il profilo a uno specchio

e si guarda nel fresco del vetro. Un po’ pallida in faccia:

non è fumo che stagni. Corruga le ciglia.

Ci vorrebbe la voglia che aveva Marí, per durare

in pensione (perché, cara donna, gli uomini

vengon qui per cavarsi capricci che non glieli toglie

né la moglie né l’innamorata) e Marí lavorava

instancabile, piena di brio e godeva salute.

I passanti davanti al caffè non distraggono Deola

che lavora soltanto la sera, con lente conquiste

nella musica del suo locale. Gettando le occhiate

a un cliente o cercandogli il piede, le piaccion le orchestre

che la fanno parere un’ attrice alla scena d’amore

con un giovane ricco. Le basta un cliente

ogni sera e ha da vivere. (Forse il signore di ieri

mi portava davvero con sé). Stare sola, se vuole,

al mattino, e sedere al caffè. Non cercare nessuno.

Deola’s Thoughts

Deola spends the morning sat at the café

and no one looks at her. Everyone runs at this time in the city

under a sun still fresh of dawn. Deola neither

looks for anyone, calmly she smokes instead, and breathes the morning.

When she was at boarding, she had to sleep at this hour

to make her forces anew: the mat on the bed

dirtied by soldiers and workers’ raw shoes,

the customers who exhaust your back. But, on one’s own, it is different:

you can do a finer job with little labour.

The yesterday gentleman, waking her early,

kissed her and brought her (I would remain, darling,

in Turin with you, if I could) with him to the station

to be wished good bye.

She is groggy but fresh this time,

and she likes to be free, Deola, and drinking her milk

and eating brioches. This morning she’s half a madame

and if watches the passers-by, it’s only not to get bored.

At this hour in the boarding-house one sleeps and the air stinks

-the mistress goes for a walk- it’s for the stupid staying in there.

In order to go around for clubs, at evening, you need presence

and in the house the bit you’ve left is lost at thirty.

Deola sits showing her profile to a mirror

And watches herself in the freshness of glass. A bit pale in the face:

it is not the stanching smoke. She wrinkles her brows.

One would need the fancy Marì had, to last

in the house (because, dear woman, men

come here to dig out whims neither the wife

or the lover take out) and Marì worked

untiring, full of spirit, and she had good health.

In front of the café people don’t distract Deola

who works only at night, with slow conquests

in the music of her club. Casting glimpses

to some customer or finding his foot, she likes orchestras

making her seem an actress in the love scene

with a wealthy guy. One customer’s enough

for each night and she can live on. (Maybe the yesterday gentleman

really would take me with him). Being alone, if she wants,

in the morning, and sit at the café. Looking for no-one.

Gedachten van Deola

Deola brengt de morgen door in het café

en niemand kijkt naar haar. Op dit uur loopt iedereen

gehaast door de stad in de nog koele ochtendzon

Ook Deola is naar iemand op zoek: terwijl ze rustig

zit te roken, ademt ze de morgen in.

Toen ze nog in het bordeel was, moest ze slapen op dit uur

om weer op krachten te komen, en de bedsprei was bevuild

door modderschoenen van fabrieksarbeiders en soldaten:

je levert beter werk af en het kost je minder moeite

De heer van gisteren wekte haar vroeg,

zoende haar en troonde haar mee (als ik kon, dan bleef ik

bij je in Turijn, schatje) naar het station

om zich uit te laten wuiven

Al is ze nog wat suf

ze voelt zich goed en vindt het heerlijk vrij te zijn,

melk te drinken en croissants te eten. Vandaag is ze bijna

een dame en ze kijkt alleen naar de passanten uit verveling.

Op dit uur slaapt het hele bordeel, het ruikt er muf,

Madame is op stap. Je moet wel gek zijn om daar te blijven.

Om ‘s avonds de danstenten af te gaan, heb je présence nodig

en de weinige présence die je op je dertigste nog rest

gaat onherroepelijk in zo’n bordeel verloren.

Een spiegel toont Deola in profiel en ze bekijkt zichzelf

in ‘t koele glas. Wat bleekjes in het gezicht:

dat komt niet door de rook. Ze fronst de wenkbrauwen.

Om lang mee te gaan in een bordeel heb je de wilskracht nodig

van Marie (want, m’n beste meisje, mannen komen hier

om grillen uit te leven die ze bij hun vrouw

noch bij hun liefje kwijt kunnen) en Marie, die werkte

onvermoeibaar, stralend, en ze blaakte van gezondheid.

Deola slaat geen acht op de passanten voor ’t café:

zij werkt enkel ’s avonds laat, met langzame veroveringen

bij de muziek in haar tent. Terwijl ze naar een klant lonkt

of zijn voet onder de tafel zoekt, geniet ze van het orkest

en voelt zich een actrice in een liefdesscène

met een rijke jongeling. Eén klant per avond

is voor haar genoeg. (Misschien wilde die heer van gisteren

mij ècht meenemen.) Alleen zitten in het café

als ze daar ‘s morgens zin in heeft. Niemand moeten zoeken.

Vertaling : Frans Denissen & Leonard Nolens

Death will come with your eyes

Death will come with your eyes—

this death that accompanies us

from morning till night, sleepless,

deaf, like an old regret

or a stupid vice. Your eyes

will be a useless word,

a muted cry, a silence.

As you see them each morning

when alone you lean over

the mirror. O cherished hope,

that day we too shall know

that you are life and nothing.

For everyone death has a look.

Death will come with your eyes.

It will be like terminating a vice,

as seen in the mirror

a dead face re-emerging,

like listening to closed lips.

We'll go down the abyss in silence.

Love Affairs

It’s dawn on the black hills, and the cats

drowse on the tiles. A boy fell from the roof

last night and broke his back. The wind

quivers in the cool of the leaves. The red clouds,

high in the sky, are warm and move slowly.

Down in the alley a stray dog’s sniffing

the dead boy on the cobbles. But a shrill wail

rises among the tiles: someone’s unhappy.

The crickets were chirping all night, and the stars

went out in the breeze. The brightness of dawn

quenches even the eyes of cats in heat–

the cats the boy was watching. The female

was wailing for her tom. Nothing’s any use–

not the treetops or the red clouds–she wails

to the bright sky, as if it were still night.

The boy was spying on the cats making love.

The snarling dog nosing the boy’s body

was there before dawn. He was running from the light

on the back of the hill when the light caught him

swimming in the river, drenched with water

like a meadow in the morning dew. The bitches

were still howling.

The stream runs smoothly, skimmed

by swallows. Down from the red clouds they dip

in joy at finding the river deserted.

Grappa in September

The mornings run their course, clear and deserted

along the river's banks, which at dawn turn foggy,

darkening their green, while they wait for the sun.

In the last house, still damp, at the field's edge,

they sell tobacco, which is blackish in color

and tastes of sugar: it gives off a bluish haze.

They also have grappa there, the color of water.

There comes a moment when everything is still

and ripens. The trees in the distance are quiet

and their darkness deepens, concealing fruit so ripe

it would drop at a touch. The occasional clouds

are swollen and ripe. Far away, in city streets,

every house is mellowing in the mild air.

This early, you see only women. The women don't smoke,

or drink. All they know is standing in the sun,

letting it warm their bodies, as though they were fruit.

The air, raw with fog, has to be swallowed in sips,

like grappa. Everything here distills its own fragrance.

Even the water in the river has absorbed the banks,

steeping them to their depths in the soft air. The streets

are like the women. They ripen by standing still.

This is the time when every man should stand

still in the street and see how everything ripens.

There is even a breeze, which does not move the clouds

but somehow succeeds in maneuvering the bluish haze

without scattering it. The smell drifting by is a new smell.

The tobacco is tinged with grappa. So it seems

the women are not alone in enjoying the morning.

In the Morning You Always Come Back

Dawn’s faint breath

breathes with your mouth

at the ends of empty streets.

Gray light your eyes,

sweet drops of dawn

on dark hills.

Your steps and breath

like the wind of dawn

smother houses.

The city shudders,

Stones exhale—

you are life, an awakening.

Star lost

in the light of dawn,

trill of the breeze,

warmth, breath—

the night is done.

You are light and morning.