Archives for posts with tag: Italian poets

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THE SHADOW
by Carlo Betocchi
(translated by Geoffrey Brock)

One spring day I saw
the shadow of a strawberry tree
lying on the moor
like a shy lamb asleep.

Its heart was far away,
suspended in the sky,
brown in a brown veil,
in the sun’s eye.

The shadow played in the wind,
moving there alone
to make the tree content.
Here and there it shone.

It knew no pain, no haste,
wanting only to feel morning,
then noon, then the slow-paced
journey of evening.

Among all the shadows always
joining eternal shadow,
shrouding the earth in falseness,
I loved this steady shadow.

And thus, at times, it descends
among us, this meek semblance,
and lies down, as if drained,
in grass and in patience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carlo Betocchi (1899-1986) was an Italian writer who led a double life, working for decades as a surveyor and engineer building bridges, roads, and canals, while helping to found the influential literary journal, Il Frontespizio. His Tutte le poesie (Complete poems) appeared in 1984.

 NOTE: Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree, occasionally cane apple) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the family Ericaceae, native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland. (Source: wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree)

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THE CATS WILL KNOW
by Cesare Pavese
Translated by Geoffrey Brock

Rain will fall again
on your smooth pavement,
a light rain like
a breath or a step.
The breeze and the dawn
will flourish again
when you return,
as if beneath your step.
Between flowers and sills
the cats will know.
 
There will be other days,
there will be other voices.
You will smile alone.
The cats will know.
You will hear words
old and spent and useless
like costumes left over
from yesterday’s parties.
 
You too will make gestures.
You’ll answer with words—
face of springtime,
you too will make gestures.
 
The cats will know,
face of springtime;
and the light rain
and the hyacinth dawn
that wrench the heart of him
who hopes no more for you—
they are the sad smile
you smile by yourself.
 
There will be other days,
other voices and renewals.
Face of springtime,
we will suffer at daybreak.
***
“The Cats Will Know” appears in Cesare Pavese’s collection Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950 (Copper Canyon Press, 2002).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cesare Pavese (1908 –1950) was an Italian poet, novelist, literary critic and translator. In his home country, he is widely considered among the major authors of the 20th century. (Source: wikipedia.org.)

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PASSION FOR SOLITUDE
by Cesare Pavase
Translated by Geoffrey Brock

I’m eating a little supper by the bright window.
The room’s already dark, the sky’s starting to turn.
Outside my door, the quiet roads lead,
after a short walk, to open fields.
I’m eating, watching the sky—who knows
how many women are eating now. My body is calm:
labor dulls all the senses, and dulls women too.
 
Outside, after supper, the stars will come out to touch
the wide plain of the earth. The stars are alive,
but not worth these cherries, which I’m eating alone.
I look at the sky, know that lights already are shining
among rust-red roofs, noises of people beneath them.
A gulp of my drink, and my body can taste the life
of plants and of rivers. It feels detached from things.
A small dose of silence suffices, and everything’s still,
in its true place, just like my body is still.
 
All things become islands before my senses,
which accept them as a matter of course: a murmur of silence.
All things in this darkness—I can know all of them,
just as I know that blood flows in my veins.
The plain is a great flowing of water through plants,
a supper of all things. Each plant, and each stone,
lives motionlessly. I hear my food feeding my veins
with each living thing that this plain provides.
 
The night doesn’t matter. The square patch of sky
whispers all the loud noises to me, and a small star
struggles in emptiness, far from all foods,
from all houses, alien. It isn’t enough for itself,
it needs too many companions. Here in the dark, alone,
my body is calm, it feels it’s in charge.
***
“Passion for Solitude” appears in Cesare Pavese’s collection Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950 (Copper Canyon Press, 2002).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cesare Pavese (1908 –1950) was an Italian poet, novelist, literary critic and translator. In his home country, he is widely considered among the major authors of the 20th century. (Source: wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “The stars outside my window” by Chris Sanchez, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.