Primo Levi

(1919 - 1987 / Turin / Italy)

Reveille - Poem by Primo Levi

In the brutal nights we used to dream
Dense violent dreams,
Dreamed with soul and body:
To return; to eat; to tell the story.
Until the dawn command
Sounded brief, low
'Wstawac'
And the heart cracked in the breast.

Now we have found our homes again,
Our bellies are full,
We're through telling the story.
It's time. Soon we'll hear again
The strange command:
'Wstawac'


Translated by Ruth Feldman And Brian Swann


Anonymous submission.


Comments about Reveille by Primo Levi

  • Kim Barney (9/12/2015 12:45:00 PM)


    Thanks again to Fabrizio for the clarifications! Such a sad reminder of Auschwitz and the other death camps. (Report) Reply

    Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (11/14/2015 11:16:00 AM)

    thank you, Kim

    5 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • .., Rahman .., Henry (9/12/2015 8:34:00 AM)


    In true sense, Modern poem. Laconic but capable to express a lot. wonderful poem in deed. (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (9/12/2015 8:27:00 AM)


    I like the translation by Ruth Feldman And Brian Swann, but I'd prefer some little changes.. starting with the title: it is more than a call to reveil, it is a 'command / order': ''GET UP! ''
    - - The prisoners were not in a 'normal prison': they were in Auschwitz's death camp - -

    _________

    GET UP!

    We used to dream in those brutal nights
    Dense, violent dreams
    Dreamed with soul and body:
    To return; to eat; to tell our story.
    Until it sounded - brief, low
    The command of dawn:
    Wstawac '';
    And the heart cracked in the chest.

    Now we've recovered our homes,
    Our bellies are full,
    We've just finished telling the story.
    It's time. Soon we'll hear again
    That foreign command:
    Wstawac ''.


    - -

    ALZARSI

    Sognavamo nelle notti feroci
    Sogni densi e violenti
    Sognati con anima e corpo:
    Tornare; mangiare; raccontare.
    Finché suonava breve sommesso
    Il comando dell’alba:
    «Wstawac'»;
    E si spezzava in petto il cuore.

    Ora abbiamo ritrovato la casa,
    Il nostro ventre è sazio,
    Abbiamo finito di raccontare.
    E’ tempo. Presto udremo ancora
    Il comando straniero:
    «Wstawac'».


    _________

    «Wstawac'» is 'Get up' in Polish
    (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (9/12/2015 7:42:00 AM)


    Primo Levi's note:

    ''Wstawac'' means Get up in Polish.

    It refers to the first 'command', shouted at dawn, in Auschwitz's death camp.
    (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (9/12/2015 7:40:00 AM)


    ITALIAN Text:
    ___________


    Alzarsi

    Sognavamo nelle notti feroci
    Sogni densi e violenti
    Sognati con anima e corpo:
    Tornare; mangiare; raccontare.
    Finché suonava breve sommesso
    Il comando dell’alba:
    «Wstawac'»;
    E si spezzava in petto il cuore.

    Ora abbiamo ritrovato la casa,
    Il nostro ventre è sazio,
    Abbiamo finito di raccontare.
    E’ tempo. Presto udremo ancora
    Il comando straniero:
    «Wstawac'».

    11 gennaio 1946

    (Primo Levi)
    (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (9/12/2015 7:29:00 AM)


    two Italian Authors (Levi and Leopardi) today, for POEM OF THE DAY.. wow! :) (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: dream, time, heart



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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