Where at this moment
is the uncut stone
waiting for when
the grave’s my home?
What if I’ve tramped
the roads and sat
with a girl in my arms
on that very slab? (1909)
Birds take joy
in the coming spring
putting all their heart
into their love-chirping.
Well, I was once
an adept at
I remember that.
And then I lost
my soul, from day
to day of my life
with its bitter games
and now I don’t know
what their tongue means
to say, that wise
tongue with its dreams. (1919)
My neighour’s son has died
only twenty years old –
I had just lent him a book –
a lively, healthy lad.
The blue night is all
spring scent, spring moon,
I lean on the window-sill
transfixed with pain. (1921)
In some far off forest
the strong oak grows,
And my death is so near
that the deep thick oak boughs
rustle through my blood. (1928)
[Translated May 1977]
Black Sea Children
Come all you swashbuckling bath-swabbers, tuba-cheeky chimney-sweeps,
Story-tellers, snake-oil merchants, conjurors, artistes,
Dogged trackers, treasure-seekers, shaggy earth-lopers,
Lemonade-lovers, leaders of your own leaders!
Thrust your carpe-diem snouts in watermelon pulp!
Your blessed bellies will sing and gurgle and blup.
Tell me now, tell me, is he your pal, your comrade,
Runt of a lounge-lizard, well-licked ugly duckling?
Better the air of the seas! Better the air of the forests!
Leaves are the best medicine, trees are your doctors.
Scramble up into the hills, children! Seize the jetting waterfall
That quivers at your feet
Like a bright blade plunged in peat!
(The wind balloons your shirt,
The sun stands at its height.
Dive into the sea-swirl
Like frogs, swim with all your might!)
Out there are bays and backwaters, Athens and Istanbul,
A sea of snorting dolphins right to the Pole!
Joking apart, it’s true! This noted fisher
Tunes with his aerial to the submarine sea-bass singer.
Crab-traders, divers, sea-bed shellfish-lords,
Bold Red guardsmen, silent Red Indian hordes,
Future cosmonauts with skin tanned by the sun,
Flourish, children, mischief-makers. I salute you one by one.
[Translated 17 March 1988]
As if it was a life, living
Roberto Sanesi (‘Como se fosse una vita, vivendo’)
It was towards something ordinary, perfectly
natural objects, but of metal, of stone,
which would have had that blameless existence of theirs
against the prattling of a maple tree, or the grey
trembling of a squirrel;
in some way
it was towards an organised deceit, of forms
that would have made cold their sustenance, a sort
of solemn stillness; or else from beneath the snow
as if it was a life, living, to return in precision
to the surface, to the great hubbub;
it was by these
distinct measures that I went in search of some clue
of what remains;
now dying is towards
the transience of perfection, an extension
of myself within myself which laboriously, tracking
a single target through my travels, I go on
searching for, in the spot where light thickens
the unintelligible winter to come.
[Translated August–September 1988]