Thursday, November 29, 2007


And so – if it happens that I go –
something will remain
of me
in this world –
a slight trace of silence
amidst the voices –
a frail breath of white
in the heart of blue.

And one evening in November
a slender little girl
on a street corner
will sell chrysanthemums,
under stars
frozen, green, remote.

Someone will cry,
somewhere – somewhere –
someone looking for chrysanthemums
for me
in this world
when, with no return, it happens that
I have to go.

Nick Benson's translation of the poem below by Antonia Pozzi (1912-1938). When she took her own life at the age of twenty-six she was virtually unknown, but the notebooks she left behind were filled with terse poems of astonishing power and lyricism. Her verse places her alongside the ‘hermetic’ poets of the day – Montale, Ungaretti, Quasimodo – but her voice is unmistakable. Her poems are collected in the volume Parole (Garzanti, 1998), and a collection of prose has been published as Diari (Scheiwiller, 1988); a selection of her work was published not long ago translated from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti (Breath: Poems and Letters, Wesleyan UP, 2002).


E poi – se accadrà ch’io me ne vada –
resterà qualche cosa
di me
nel mio mondo –
resterà un’esile scía di silenzio
in mezzo alle voci –
un tenue fiato di bianco
in cuore all’azzurro.

Ed una sera di novembre
una bambina gracile
all’angolo d’una strada
venderà tanti crisantemi
e ci saranno le stelle
gelide verdi remote.

Qualcuno piangerà
chissà dove – chissà dove –
qualcuno cercherà i crisantemi
per me
nel mondo
quando accadrà che senza ritorno
io me ne debba andare.

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