Parole, traduzioni

Da Poems, Antonia Pozzi, Translated by Peter Robinson, Oneworld Classics Ltd, London House, Richmond, Surrey TW9 2LL, United Kingdom, 2011.

(cliccando sul titolo sottolineato è possibile accedere alla poesia in originale)

Love of Distance 

I remember, when in my mother’s house,
in the middle of the plain, I had
a window that looked onto
the meadows; far off, the wooded bank
hid the Ticino and, further on,
there was a dark line of hills.
Back then I’d only seen the sea
one time, but preserved of it
a sharp nostalgia as when in love.
Towards evening I stared at the skyline;
narrowed my eyes a little; caressed
outlines and colours between my lids;
and the line of hills flattened out,
trembling, azure: and seemed the sea to me
and pleased me more than the real sea.

Milan, 24th April 1929

The Closing Door

You see it, sister: I’m tired,
tired, worn out, shaken,
like the column of a strait gate
at the end of a vast courtyard;
like an old column
that all through its life
had been dyke to a headlong flight
of a hemmed-in crowd.
Oh, the imprisoned words
that are beating beating
in furious manner
at the door of the spirit
and the door of the spirit
that bit by bit
And every day the way narrows
and every day the assault is harder.
And the last day
– I know it –
on the last day
when a single blade of light
pours from the final loophole
in the shadow,
then it’ll be the monstrous wave,
the tremendous crash,
mortal cry
of the unborn words
towards the last dream of sun.
And then,
behind the door for ever closed,
there’ll be the night entire,
the coolness,
And then,
with lips sealed,
with eyes open
on the arcane sky of shadow,
there’ll be
– you know it –

Milan, 10th February 1931


Venice. Silence. The tread
of a barefoot boy
on the fondamenta
fills the canal
with echoes.

Venice. Slowness. At the corners
of walls there blossom
trees and flowers:
as if the journey
lasted a whole season,
as if May-time
unravelled them
for me.

At the well in a small square
finds a grass blade between stones:
with that it ties
its beat to a pigeon’s wing,
to the thudding
of the oars.

22nd October 1933

Prayer to Poetry

Oh, you truly burden
my soul, poetry:
you know if I’m failing and lost,
you who then deny yourself
and are silent.

Poetry, I confess to you who are my
deep-down voice:
you know it,
you know I’ve betrayed,
have walked on the field of gold
that was my heart,
I’ve snapped the grass,
have ruined the ground –
poetry – that ground
where you told me the sweetest
of all your songs,
where one morning for the first time
I saw the lark fly in the clear
and with my eyes I tried to climb –
Poetry, poetry, you that remain
my deep down remorse,
oh help me, you, to rediscover
my high abandoned country –
Poetry you that give yourself only
to those who with lamenting eyes
search for themselves –
oh remake me worthy of you,
poetry watching over me.

Pasturo, 23rd August 1934


I’ve much faith in you. It seems
that I could await your voice
in silence, for centuries
of darkness.

You know all the secrets,
like the sun:
you could make flower
geraniums and wild orange blossom
on the rocky depths
of quarries, of the legendary

I’ve much faith in you. I’m quiet
like the Arab wrapped
in a white barracan,
who listens to God ripening
his barley round the house.

8th December 1934


With the dawn
from sea I’d climb
by high stairs: awaiting skies
bent down at the margins
of the stone.

And sun brimmed over the plain.

Warm gushes ran in the shafts
of the columns,
dense veins opened
with blond lymph:

temples lifted in the light
like living hands

and I’d measure through airy fingers
the spaces
of an eternal morning.

(20th April 1934) 28th January 1935

A Fate

Gleams and shelters
where roads divide
called to the companions.

To you remains
this that the wind unveils for you,
pale road in the night:
for your thirst
the tumbling torrents’ water,
for someone tired
the pasture grass renewed
in the space of a sleep.

Absorbed in his own fire
everyone human
surrenders to a single life.

But on your slow
going as a river that finds no end,
the silvery light of infinite
lives – of the free stars
trembles now:
and if not one door
opens to your weariness,
if it’s rebuffed
at every step your face’s burden,
if it is yours
this that’s more than pain,
joy of going on alone
in the clear desert of your hills

now you accept
you’re a poet.

13th February 1935

The Women

In siren howl
a flaming
squadron splits the sky.

Broken between houses
the bells sink down.

The women appear
tricolour flags in arms;
it cries courage
in the wind,
their blonde hair.

spent eyes lower.

In the evening
they look down there on the first dead
stretched out under the stars.

3rd October 1935

Like vast women they occupy
the evening:
stone hands folded on their breast
they gaze on road ends, silencing
the infinite hope of return.

Speechless in the womb mature
children to the absent. (Sails called him
down there – or battles. So earth seemed
blue and red to them). Now at a slippage
of steps on the pebbles
immense they shudder their shoulders. The sky
with a start beats its white eyelids.

Mothers. And they raise their foreheads, shift
the branches of stars from large eyes:
should at the last rim of waiting
an aurora be born

and at the bare belly rose bushes bloom.

Pasturo, 9th September 1937

Death of a Season

It rained all night
on the memories of summer.

At dark we went out
amidst a funereal thunder of stones,
still on the banks we held lanterns
to explore the bridges’ danger.

Pale at dawn we saw swallows
drenched on the wires poised
to spy out arcane signs of departure –

and they were mirrored on earth
by the fountains from faces undone.

Pasturo, 20th September 1937

Lakes of wonder are spread wide
at evening in your eyes
amidst lights and sounds:

slow flowers of folly open
on the spirit’s waters, mirroring
the high peak crowned with clouds…

Your blood that dreams of the rocks
is a fairy-tale
silence in the room.

Misurina, 7th August 1938

Who speaks to me won’t know
I’ve lived another life –
as one who tells
a fairy tale
or a holy parable.

Because you were
my purity,
you with a white wave
of sadness fallen across your face
should I call you with impure lips,
you whose sweet tears
ran from the depths of eyes
if we were looking skyward –
and so I seemed the lovelier to you.

O you
veil – of my youth,
my light dress,
vanished truth –
O gleaming
knot – of a whole life
that was dreamed – perhaps –

oh, for having dreamed you,
my dear life,
I bless the days remaining –
the dead branch of all the days remaining,
that serve
to be mourning you.

25th September 1933

And then – if it happens I go away –
there’ll remain something
of me
in my world –
there’ll remain a slender wake of silence
amid the voices –
a tenuous breath of white
at the heart of azure –

And one November evening
a frail little girl
at a street corner
will sell so many chrysanthemums
and there’ll be the stars
ice-cold, green, remote –
Someone will cry
who knows where – who knows where –
Someone will search out chrysanthemums
for me
in the world
when it happens that without return
I’ll have to go away.

Milan, 29th October 1930

Perhaps it isn’t even true
what at times you hear cry in your heart:
that this life is,
within your being,
a nothing
and what you called light
is a dazzle,
the supreme dazzle
of your sick eyes –
and what you pretended to be the goal
is a dream,
the vile dream
of your own weakness.

Perhaps life is really
such as you find it in younger days:
an eternal breath seeking
from sky to sky
who knows what height.

But us, we’re like the meadow grass
that above feels the wind pass
and all sings in the wind
and forever lives in the wind,
yet can’t grow enough
to stop that supreme flight,
or leap up from the earth
and drown in him.

Milan, 31th December 1931