I've never understood if it was I
who was your faithful and distempered dog,
or if you were that for me.
For them you were only a myopic
insect lost in the babble
of high society. How ingenuous
of those clever people not to know
it was they who were your laughingstock,
that you could see them even in the dark,
and unmask them with your infallible flair
and your bat's radar.
The wind which this evening alertly plays
- recalls a loud clash of metal sheets -
the instruments of the thick trees and sweeps
the coppery horizon
where streaks of light like kites
stretch high in the sky that thunders
(Journeying clouds, bright
realms of above! Of sublime El Dorados
and the sea that scale after scale,
hurls to the ground a horn
of spiralled foams;
the wind that is born and dies
in the hour that is slowly blackening
would also play you tonight
out of tune instrument,
isn’t a sin so long as it does some good.
[…] before it can lock
onto the images, onto the words, onto the dark
remembering senses of the past, the emptiness
we once occupied which waits us again,
when it is time
to take us back, to take us in.
(Satura, Xenia II )
And now that you are not here, I feel emptiness at each step.
Our long journey was brief, though.
Mine still lasts, but I don't need
any more connections, reservations,
traps, humiliation of those who think reality
is what we are used to see.
I went down a million of stairs, at least, arm in arm with you,
and not because with four eyes we see better that with two.
With you I went downstairs because I knew, among the two of us,
the only real eyes, although very blurred,
belonged to you.
era il rivo strozzato che gorgoglia
era l'incartocciarsi della foglia
riarsa, era il cavallo stramazzato.
che schiude la divina Indifferenza:
era la statua nella sonnolenza
del meriggio, e la nuvola, e il falco alto levato.
it was the strangled brook, still gurgling,
it was the curling of the shriveled leaf,
it was the fallen horse.
that reveals the divine Indifference:
it was the statue in the drowsy trance
of noon, the cloud, the cruising falcon.
in de gewurgde stortbeek, in ‘t verschrompeld
ineenkrimpen van weggeschroeide blaren,
in ‘t trekpaard door vermoeidheid neergestrompeld.
onttrekken in een goddelijke vlucht:
‘t was het standbeeld soezend in de middagzon,
de witte wolk, de valk hoog in de lucht
Sul rialzo a strapiombo sulla scogliera:
Desolata t’attende dalla sera
In cui v’entrò lo sciame dei tuoi pensieri
E vi sostò irrequieto.
Libeccio sferza da anni le vecchie mura
E il suono del tuo riso non è più lieto:
La bussola va impazzita all’avventura
Tu non ricordi; altro tempo frastorna
La tua memoria; un filo s’addipana.
Ne tengo ancora un capo; ma s’allontana
La casa e in cima al tetto la banderuola
Affumicata gira senza pietà.
Ne tengo un capo; ma tu resti sola
Né qui respiri nell’oscurità.
Oh l’orizzonte in fuga, dove s’accende
Rara la luce della petroliera!
Il varco è qui? (Ripullula il frangente
Ancora sulla balza che scoscende …)
Tu non ricordi la casa di questa
Mia sera. Ed io non so chi va e chi resta.
On the edge of the steep cliff overhanging the reef:
Desolate it has been waiting for you since that evening
When the swarm of your thoughts entered it,
And paused there, restless.
The south wind has battered the old walls for years
And the sound of your laughter is no longer gay:
The compass veers crazily at random
You do not remember; another time confuses
Your memory; and a thread is wound.
I still hold an end of it; but the house
recedes, and on top of the roof the weathervane,
Blackened by smoke, spins pitilessly.
I hold an end of it; but you remain alone
And do not breathe here in the darkness.
Oh the retreating horizon, where
the tanker’s light rarely flares!
Is this the way through? (The breakers seethe
As ever at the plunging cliffs …)
You do not remember the house of this
My evening. And I do not know who is going and who remains.
To Spend the Afternoon
To spend the afternoon, absorbed and pale,
beside a burning garden wall;
to hear, among the stubble and the thorns,
the blackbirds cackling and the rustling snakes.
On the cracked earth or in the vetch
to spy on columns of red ants
now crossing, now dispersing,
atop their miniature heaps.
To ponder, peering through the leaves,
the heaving of the scaly sea
while the cicadas' wavering screech
goes up from balding peaks.
And walking out into the sunlight's glare
to feel with melancholy wonder
how all of life and its travail
is in this following a wall
topped with the shards of broken bottles.
translated by David Young
Glory of Expanded Noon
Glory of expanded noon
when the trees give up no shade,
and more and more the look of things
is turning bronze, from excess light.
Above, the sun—and a dry shore;
so my day is not yet done:
the finest hour is over the low wall,
closed off by a pale setting sun.
Drought all around: kingfisher hovers
over something life has left.
The good rain is beyond the barrenness,
but there's greater joy in waiting.
translated by Jonathan Galassi
The Lemon Trees
Hear me a moment. Laureate poets
seem to wander among plants
no one knows: boxwood, acanthus,
where nothing is alive to touch.
I prefer small streets that falter
into grassy ditches where a boy,
searching in the sinking puddles,
might capture a struggling eel.
The little path that winds down
along the slope plunges through cane-tufts
and opens suddenly into the orchard
among the moss-green trunks
of the lemon trees.
Perhaps it is better
if the jubilee of small birds
dies down, swallowed in the sky,
yet more real to one who listens,
the murmur of tender leaves
in a breathless, unmoving air.
The senses are graced with an odor
filled with the earth.
It is like rain in a troubled breast,
sweet as an air that arrives
too suddenly and vanishes.
A miracle is hushed; all passions
are swept aside. Even the poor
know that richness,
the fragrance of the lemon trees.
You realize that in silences
things yield and almost betray
their ultimate secrets.
At times, one half expects
to discover an error in Nature,
the still point of reality,
the missing link that will not hold,
the thread we cannot untangle
in order to get at the truth.
You look around. Your mind seeks,
makes harmonies, falls apart
in the perfume, expands
when the day wearies away.
There are silences in which one watches
in every fading human shadow
something divine let go.
The illusion wanes, and in time we return
to our noisy cities where the blue
appears only in fragments
high up among the towering shapes.
Then rain leaching the earth.
Tedious, winter burdens the roofs,
and light is a miser, the soul bitter.
Yet, one day through an open gate,
among the green luxuriance of a yard,
the yellow lemons fire
and the heart melts,
and golden songs pour
into the breast
from the raised cornets