Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Salvatore Quasimodo

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

"Indifference and apathy have one name - betrayal."

"Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth pierced by a ray of sunshine: and now evening, and Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world, pierced by a ray of sunlight, and Suddenly it's evening."

"Mater dulcissima, now the mists descend, the canal strikes confused on Dams, the trees swell with water, burning with snow, I'm not sad in the North are not at peace with myself, but do not expect forgiveness from anyone, many I have tears from man to man. I know you're not well, you live like all mothers of poets, poor and in the right measure of love for their children away. Today I am who I write. "- At last, say, two words from the boy who fled at night with a short coat and a few lines in his pocket. Poor, now ready for the heart will kill him one day somewhere. - "Sure, I remember, was that gray port of slow trains carrying almonds and oranges, dell'Imera the mouth, the river full of magpies, salt, eucalyptus. But now I thank you, I want this, the irony that you've put on my lip, as mild as your own. That smile has saved me from tears and pain. And now I do not care if a few tears for you, for everyone like you expect, and do not know what. Ah, gentle death, do not touch the kitchen clock that ticks on the wall throughout my childhood was spent on the enamel of its face, of those painted flowers: do not touch the hands, the heart of the old. But maybe someone responds? O death of piety, death of shame. Farewell, my dear, goodbye, my dulcissima mater."

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

"A poet clings to his own tradition and avoids internationalism."

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

"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."

"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."

"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."

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

"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."

"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."

"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."

"Poetry is also the physical self of the poet, and it is impossible to separate the poet from his poetry."

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

"Religious power, which, as I have already said, frequently identifies itself with political power, has always been a protagonist of this bitter struggle, even when it seemingly was neutral."

"Religious poetry, civic poetry, lyric or dramatic poetry are all categories of man's expression which are valid only if the endorsement of formal content is valid."

"Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own."

"The antagonism between the poet and the politician has generally been evident in all cultures."

"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."

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

"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."

"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."

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

"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."

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

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

"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."

"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"

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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.]"

"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."

"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."

"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."

"Miserly pain, late your gift in this my hour of abandoned sighs. A cold oboe re-syllabizes joy of eternal foliage, not mine, and forgets; in me it is evening the rain flows over my hands of grass. Wings flutter in a dull sky, passing. The heart migrates, and I am barren, and my days rubble."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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?."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."