Salvatore Quasimodo


Italian Author, Poet, Translator,Critic, Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature

Author Quotes

You arrive in my voice and I see the quiet light descend in shadowy rays and make you a cloud of stars about my head. And I suspended there, to stupefy myself with angels, the dead, the bright arc of air. Not mine; but within the space re-emerged, trembling in me, grown dark and tall.

You should not have ripped out your image taken from us, from the world, a portion of beauty. What can we do we enemies of death, bent to your feet of rose, your breast of violet? Not a word, not a scrap of your last day, a No to earth?s things, a No to our dull human record. The sad moon in summer, the dragging anchor, took your dreams, hills, trees, light, waters, darkness, not dim thoughts but truths, severed from the mind that suddenly decided, time and all future evil. Now you are shut behind heavy doors enemy of death. Who cries? You have blown out beauty with a breath, torn her, dealt her the death-wound, without a tear for her insensate shadow?s spreading over us. Destroyed solitude, and beauty, failed. You have signaled into the dark, inscribed your name in air, your No to everything that crowds here and beyond the wind. I know what you were looking for in your new dress. I understand the unanswered question. Neither for you nor us, a reply. Oh, flowers and moss, Oh, enemy of death.

Now autumn despoils the green of hills, O my sweet creatures. Again we shall hear, before night, the last lament of the birds, the call of the grey plain that flows towards the deep murmur of the sea. And the smell of wood in the rain, the odor of lairs, how do I live here among houses among humans, o my sweet creatures.

You are the creature still of stone and sling, man of my time. Yours was the cockpit of malignant wings, the gnomons of death, ? I saw you ? in the fiery chariot, at the gallows, at the torturer?s wheel. I saw you: it was you, your exact science devoted to extermination, without love, or savior. Again you kill, as ever, as your fathers did, as the creatures that saw you for the first time, killed. And the blood still smells of that day when one brother said to the other: ?Let us go to the field.? And that echo, chill, tenacious, reaches down to you, in your day. Forget, o sons, the clouds born of blood risen from the earth, forget the fathers: their tombs sink down deep in the ashes, dark birds, the wind, cover their hearts.

On the heights a twisted pine; intent, listening to the void with trunk arched in a bow? Refuge of nocturnal birds, it resounds at the ultimate hour, with a beating of swift wings. It even has its nest my heart suspended in the darkness, a voice; also listening, the night.

Perhaps it?s a true sign of life; around me the children with brisk motions of their heads dance in a play of cadences and voices down the meadow by the church. Evening?s mercy, shadows reigniting the oh so green grass, with the moon?s loveliest flame. Memory grants you brief rest, an hour, you wake. Behold the well echoes, or, for a first time, the sea. This is the hour; no longer mine, dry, remote simulacra. And you wind of the south, redolent with orange blossom, urge the moon to where the naked children sleep, force a stallion?s hoof-prints on the colt in the damp meadow, reveal the sea, raise the mist from the trees: now the heron enters the water, and slowly prods the mud among the thorns, the magpie mocks, black in the orange tree.

Quiet is the old sound and I'm fast disappearing listened to the voices of Silwan night deep in water restaurant Balangm.

Sometimes your voice calls to me, and I do not know what skies or waters you wake me to: a net of sunlight that glazes your walls that at evening were a swaying of late lanterns in the workshops filled with the breeze and sadness. At other times: a loom clattered in the yard and at night were the cries of children and puppies. Alleyway: a crossing of houses, that calls thus softly, and knows not the fear of being alone in the dark.

Spring heightens the trees and rivers; I cannot hear the deep voice lost in you, beloved. Without memory of death in the conjoined flesh, the roar of the final day rouses us adolescents. The grown branch my hand flowers in your side?.

The dead mature; my heart with them. Mercy on the self is earth?s final humor. A light of lacustrine trees stirs in the glass of the urn. a dark mutation ravages me, unknown saint; in the scattered seed green maggots moan: my visage forms their springtime. A memory of darkness is born in the depths of walled wells, an echo in buried eardrums: I am your pale relic.

Arise: re-emergent light: bright burning leaves. I lie down in brimming rivers where there are islands mirrors of shadows and stars. And your celestial heights overwhelm me, that always nurture my other life with joy. I long to reclaim you, though disillusioned, adolescence with infirm limbs.

The Sea Still Sounds - Even more so at night the sea still sounds, lightly, up and down, along the smooth sands. Echo of an enclosed voice in the mind, that returns in time; and also that assiduous lament of the gulls; birds perhaps of the summits that April drives towards the plain; already you are near to me in that voice; and I wish there might yet come to you from me, an echo of memory, like this dark murmur of the sea.

Dear fall Raa'iq myself together and leaned on your water to drink horizon circled finely trees and gaps in the birth of excruciating pain and found me your united In exploded inside you what I am healthy thing Hui a non-starter for the gathering up its parts the ground

The sunflower bends to the west, and the daylight already fades in its ruined eye, and the air of summer thickens and already the leaves and the smoke in the wood-yards curl. The last play of light fades in a dry belt of cloud and a clap of thunder. Again, and for years, dear, the transformation of trees holds us within the narrow circle of the Navigli. But it is always our day and always that sun that leaves with threads of affectionate rays. I no longer recall; nor wish to recall; the memory risen from the dead, life is endless. Each day is ours. One will end thus forever, and you and I, when it seems late to us. Here on the bank of the canal, swinging our feet, like children, we gaze at the water, the branches clothed in their tint of green that darkens. And the man who approaches in silence, hides no knife in his hand but a geranium flower.

Epitaph for Bice Donetti - With her eyes to the rain and the imps of night, she is there, in plot fifteen at Musocco, the woman from Emilia I loved in the sad days of youth. She was recently toyed with by death while she quietly watched the autumn wind shake the branches and leaves of the plane trees of her grey suburban home. Her face was still alive with surprise, as it was surely in childhood; struck by the fire-eater high on his cart. O you who pass by, brought by other dead, there before grave eleven sixty stop for a moment to salute her who never complained of the man who remains behind, despised, with his verses, one like so many, a worker with dreams.

The wind sways exultant, and bears leaves on the trees in the Park, there is grass already around the walls of the Castle, barges of sand thread the Naviglio Grande. Irritating, unhinged, it?s a day that turns to ice like any other, it goes on, it will. But you?re here and have no limits: it does violence thus to motionless death; and prepares our bed of life.

Even more so at night the sea still sounds, lightly, up and down, along the smooth sands. Echo of an enclosed voice in the mind, that returns in time; and also that assiduous lament of the gulls; birds perhaps of the summits that April drives towards the plain; already you are near to me in that voice; and I wish there might yet come to you from me, an echo of memory, like this dark murmur of the sea.

There, at Auschwitz, far from the Vistula, love, on the northern plain in a field of death: funereal, cold, rain on the rusted poles, and a tangle of steel fences: and no trees or birds in the grey air, or above our thought, but inertia and pain that memory leaves to a silence without irony or anger. You sought neither elegy nor idyll: only a reason for our fate, here, you, sensitive to the contrasts of mind, unsure of the clear presence of life. And life is here, in every ?no? that seems sure: Here we can hear the angel weep, the monster, our future hours, beating at the beyond, which is here, in eternity and in motion, not in a vision in dreams, of possible mercy. And here are the metamorphoses, here are the myths. Without names of symbols or gods, they are chronicles, places on earth. They are Auschwitz, love. How suddenly it turned to the smoke of shades, that dear flesh of Alpheus, and Arethusa! From that hell revealed by a white inscription: ?Arbeit macht frei? the smoke issued endlessly of thousands of women thrust from kennels at dawn to the wall for target-practice, or stifled howling for merciful water with skeletal mouths under showers of gas. You?ll discover them, soldier, in your record, in the form of rivers, creatures, or are you too but ashes of Auschwitz, the medal of silence? Long tresses rest enclosed in urns of glass still crowded with amulets, and infinite shadows of little shoes, and Jewish shawls: they are the relics of a time of wisdom, of the wisdom of men who make weapons the measure, they are the myths, our metamorphoses. On the stretches of land where love and tears and pity rotted, in the rain, there a ?no? beat within us, a ?no? to death, dead at Auschwitz, never again, from that pit of ashes, death.

Grant me my day; so I might yet search myself for some dormant face of the years that a hollow of water returns in its transparency and weep for love of myself. You are a path in the heart and a finding of stars in sleepless archipelagos, night, kindly to me a fossil thrown from a weary wave; a curve of secret orbit, where we are close to rocks and grasses.

Tindari, I know you mild between broad hills, overhanging the waters of the god?s sweet islands. Today, you confront me and break into my heart. I climb airy peaks, precipices, following the wind in the pines, and the crowd of them, lightly accompanying me, fly off into the air, wave of love and sound, and you take me to you, you from whom I wrongly drew evil, and fear of silence, shadow, - refuge of sweetness, once certain - and death of spirit. It is unknown to you, that country where each day I go down deep to nourish secret syllables. A different light strips you, behind the windows clothed in night, and another joy than mine lies against you. Exile is harsh and the search, for harmony, that ended in you changes today to a precocious anxiousness for death, and every love is a shield against sadness, a silent stair in the gloom, where you station me to break my bitter bread. Return, serene Tindari, stir me, sweet friend, to raise myself to the sky from the rock, so that I might shape fear, for those who do not know what deep wind has searched me.

Horses of Volcanoes And The Moon - I inhabited islands green on a motionless sea. Shores of scorched seaweed, marine fossils, where the horses of volcanoes and the moon amorously race. In the hours of landslides leaves, cranes, assault the air: in the light of the flood clouded skies shine, open to stars; doves fly with the naked shoulders of children. Here the earth ends; with blood and sweat I fashion a prison. For you I will hurl myself at the feet of the powerful, sweeten my brigand?s heart. But hunted by men I still lie beneath the lightning flash a child with open hands, on the banks of woods and rivers: there is the quarry of Greek orange-trees fertilized by the nuptials of gods. [Note: After their defeat at Syracuse in 414BC during the Peloponnesian War the Athenians were imprisoned in the quarries.]

War, I have always said, forces men to change their standards, regardless of whether their country has won or lost. Poetics and philosophies disintegrate when the trees fall and the walls collapse . At the point when continuity was interrupted by the first nuclear explosion, it would have been too easy to recover the formal sediment which linked us with an age of poetic decorum, of a preoccupation with poetic sounds. After the turbulence of death, moral principles and even religious proofs are called into question. Men of letters who cling to the private successes of their petty aesthetics shut themselves off from poetry's restless presence. From the night, his solitude, the poet finds day and starts a diary that is lethal to the inert. The dark landscape yields a dialogue. The politician and the mediocre poets with their armor of symbols and mystic purities pretend to ignore the real poet. It is a story which repeats itself like the cock's crow; indeed, like the cock's third crow.

I find you in fortunate harbors, consort of night, disinterred hour, almost the warmth of a new joy, bitter grace of living without voice. Virgin paths oscillate freshness of rivers in sleep: And I am still the prodigal who hears his name in the silence when they summon the dead. And death is a space in the heart.

Where Messina lay violet upon the waters, among the mangled wires and rubble, you walk along the rails and switches in your islanders' cock-of-the-walk beret. For three days now, the earthquake boils, it's hurricane December and a poisoned sea. Our nights fall into the freight cars; we, young livestock, count our dusty dreams with the dead crushed by iron, munching almonds and apples dried in garlands. The science of pain put truth and blades into our games on the lowlands of yellow malaria and tertian fever swollen with mud. Your patience, sand and delicate, robbed us of fear, a lesson of days linked to the death we had betrayed, to the scorn of the thieves seized among the debris, and executed in the dark by the firing squads of the landing parties, a tally of low numbers adding up exact concentric, a scale of future life. Back and forth your sun cap moved in the little space they always left you. For me, too, everything was measured and I have borne your name a little beyond the hatred and the envy. That red on your cap was a mitre; a crown with eagle's wings. and now in the eagle of your ninety years I wanted to speak to you -- your parting signals colored by the night-time lantern -- to speak to you from this imperfect wheel of a world, within a flood of crowded walls, far from the Arabian jasmine where you are still, to tell you what once I could not ? difficult affinity of thoughts -- to tell you (not only the marshland locust, the mystic tree can hear) as the watchman of the fields tells his master: 'I kiss your hands.' This, nothing else. Life is darkly strong.

Mild autumn, I master myself and bend to your waters to drink the sky, sweet fugue of trees and depths. Harsh punishment for being born, I find myself one with you; and in you I shatter myself and heal: poor fallen thing the earth gathers.

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Italian Author, Poet, Translator,Critic, Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature