Saturday, November 25, 2006

Quasimodo Again

I’ve translated another two Quasimodo poems, the first two from his 1947 volume, Giorno Dopo Giorno (Day After Day).

On the Willow Branches

And we, how could we have sung
with a foreign foot pressed on our heart,
among the dead littering the piazzas
on grass brittle with ice, over the lamblike
crying of children, over the black howl
of the mother who stumbled upon her son
crucified on a telegraph pole?
On the willow branches, as offerings,
even our harps were suspended,
and rocked gently in the mourning wind.


This silence frozen in the streets,
this apathetic wind, which now slinks
low through dead leaves or rises again
to the colours of foreign flags…
perhaps my anxiety to send word to you
before the sky once more shuts
over another day, perhaps the inertia,
our most contemptible evil… Life
is not in this terrible, dark beating
in the heart, life is not piety, life
is no more than a bloodsport where death
is in flower. O my sweet gazelle,
I remind you of that bright geranium
on a wall riddled with bullet holes.
Now, does even death hold no consolation
for the living, even death for love?

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