Treasure Island

Cesare Pavese

(9 September 1908 – 27 August 1950 / Santo Stefano Belbo)

End of Fantasy


This body won't start again. Touching his eye sockets
one feels a heap of earth is more alive,
that the earth, even at dawn, does not keep itself so quiet.
But a corpse is the remains of too many awakenings.

We only have this power: to start
each day of life—before the earth,
under a silent sky—waiting for an awakening.
One is amazed by so much drudgery at dawn;
through awakening within awakening a job is done.
But we live only to shudder
at the labor ahead and to awaken the earth one time.
It happens at times. Then it quiets down along with us.

If touching that face the hand would not shake—
if the live hand would feel alive touching it—
if it's true that that cold is only the cold
of the earth, frozen at dawn,
perhaps it'd be an awakening, and things that keep quiet
under the dawn, would speak up again. But my hand
trembles, and of all things resembles a hand
that doesn't move.

At other times waking up at dawn
was a dry pain, a tear of light,
even a deliverance. The stingy word
of the earth was cheerful, for a brief moment,
and to die was to go back there again. Now, the waiting body
is what remains of too many awakenings and doesn't return to the earth.
They don't even say it, the hardened lips.

Submitted: Sunday, March 25, 2012

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