Salvatore Quasimodo


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

Author Quotes

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.

A Burial Sings in Me - I exile myself; so shadow fills with myrtle, and subdued space lays me down lightly. Nor does love achieve happy sylvan harmonies with me in a lonely hour: paradise and marshland sleep in the hearts of the dead. And a burial sings in me, that forces into the stony ground like a root, and attempts to mark the opposing path.

Already the rain is with us, shaking the silent air. Swallows skim the dull waters, by the lakes of Lombardy, swoop like seagulls after tiny fish; there?s a scent of hay beyond the garden fences.

And see, buds break out of the tree: a newer green in the grass eases the heart: the tree seemed already dead, bowed on the slope and all I know of miracle; and I am this watery cloud that reflected today in the ditches, the more blue, its fragment of heaven, this green that splits the bark that only last night was not there.

According to them, the poet is confined to the provinces with his mouth broken on his own syllabic trapeze.

The poet does not fear death, not because he believes in the fantasy of heroes, but because death constantly visits his thoughts and is thus an image of a serene dialogue.

After the turbulence of death, moral principles and even religious proofs are called into question.

The poet's other readers are the ancient poets, who look upon the freshly written pages from an incorruptible distance. Their poetic forms are permanent, and it is difficult to create new forms which can approach them.

An exact poetic duplication of a man is for the poet a negation of the earth, an impossibility of being, even though his greatest desire is to speak to many men, to unite with them by means of harmonious verses about the truths of the mind or of things.

The poet's spoken discourse often depends on a mystique, on the spiritual freedom that finds itself enslaved on earth.

As the poet has expected, the alarms now are sounded, for - and it must be said again - the birth of a poet is always a threat to the existing cultural order, because he attempts to break through the circle of literary castes to reach the center.

The Resistance is a moral certainty, not a poetic one. The true poet never uses words in order to punish someone. His judgment belongs to a creative order; it is not formulated as a prophetic scripture.

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.

The writer of stories or of novels settles on men and imitates them; he exhausts the possibilities of his characters.

Europeans know the importance of the Resistance; it has been the shining example of the modern conscience.

Thus, the poet's word is beginning to strike forcefully upon the hearts of all men, while absolute men of letters think that they alone live in the real world.

Even a polemic has some justification if one considers that my own first poetic experiments began during a dictatorship and mark the origin of the Hermetic movement.

War, I have always said, forces men to change their standards, regardless of whether their country has won or lost.

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.

We wrote verses that condemned us, with no hope of pardon, to the most bitter solitude.

He passes from lyric to epic poetry in order to speak about the world and the torment in the world through man, rationally and emotionally. The poet then becomes a danger.

In opposition to this detachment, he finds an image of man which contains within itself man's dreams, man's illness, man's redemption from the misery of poverty - poverty which can no longer be for him a sign of the acceptance of life.

My readers at that time were still men of letters; but there had to be other people waiting to read my poems.

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