To My Father Poem by Salvatore Quasimodo

To My Father

Rating: 2.9

Where Messina lay
violet upon the waters, among the mangled wires
and rubble, you walk along the rails
and switches in your islanders'
cock-of-the-walk beret. For three days now,
the earthquake boils, it's hurricane December
and a poisoned sea. Our nights fall
into the freight cars; we, young livestock,
count our dusty dreams with the dead
crushed by iron, munching almonds
and apples dried in garlands. The science
of pain put truth and blades into our games
on the lowlands of yellow malaria
and tertian fever swollen with mud.
Your patience, sand and delicate,
robbed us of fear,
a lesson of days linked to the death
we had betrayed, to the scorn of the thieves
seized among the debris, and executed in the dark
by the firing squads of the landing parties, a tally
of low numbers adding up exact
concentric, a scale of future life.

Back and forth your sun cap moved
in the little space they always left you.
For me, too, everything was measured
and I have borne your name
a little beyond the hatred and the envy.
That red on your cap was a mitre;
a crown with eagle's wings.
and now in the eagle of your ninety years
I wanted to speak to you -- your parting
signals coloured by the night-time lantern --
to speak to you from this imperfect
wheel of a world,
within a flood of crowded walls,
far from the Arabian jasmine
where you are still, to tell you
what once I could not -- difficult
affinity of thoughts -- to tell you (not only
the marshland locust, the mstic tree can hear)
as the watchman of the fields tells his master:
'I kiss your hands.' This, nothing else.
Life is darkly strong.

Fabrizio Frosini 14 June 2015

original text: ''Al padre'' Dove sull'acque viola era Messina, tra fili spezzati e macerie tu vai lungo binari e scambi col tuo berretto di gallo isolano. Il terremoto ribolle da due giorni, è dicembre d'uragani e mare avvelenato. Le nostre notti cadono nei carri merci e noi bestiame infantile contiamo sogni polverosi con i morti sfondati dai ferri, mordendo mandorle e mele dissecate a ghirlanda. La scienza del dolore mise verità e lame nei giochi dei bassopiani di malaria gialla e terzana gonfia di fango. La tua pazienza triste, delicata, ci rubò la paura, fu lezione di giorni uniti alla morte tradita, al vilipendio dei ladroni presi fra i rottami e giustiziati al buio dalla fucileria degli sbarchi, un conto di numeri bassi che tornava esatto concentrico, un bilancio di vita futura. Il tuo berretto di sole andava su e giù nel poco spazio che sempre ti hanno dato. Anche a me misurarono ogni cosa, e ho portato il tuo nome un po' più in là dell'odio e dell'invidia. Quel rosso del tuo capo era una mitria, una corona con le ali d'aquila. E ora nell'aquila dei tuoi novant'anni ho voluto parlare con te, coi tuoi segnali di partenza colorati dalla lanterna notturna, e qui da una ruota imperfetta del mondo, su una piena di muri serrati, lontano dai gelsomini d'Arabia dove ancora tu sei, per dirti ciò che non potevo un tempo - difficile affinità di pensieri - per dirti, e non ci ascoltano solo cicale del biviere, agavi lentischi, come il campiere dice al suo padrone: Baciamu li mani. Questo, non altro. Oscuramente forte è la vita. Salvatore Quasimodo da PensieriParole

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Fabrizio Frosini 14 June 2015

''To My Father'' Where Messina stands above violet waters, you walk the tracks amongst mangled rails and debris, in your station-master’s cap, like a Sicilian cockerel. The three day earthquake rumbles on, it’s December of hurricanes, and poisonous seas. Night descending on goods-wagons and our childish cattle, we count dusty dreams with the dead crushed by iron, munching almonds, and desiccated garlands of apple. The science of pain adds iron truth to the lowland hazards of yellow malaria and muddy bloated tertian fever. Your patience sad, delicate, robbed us of fear, was the lesson of days spent with traitorous death, with contempt for the thieves caught in the wreckage, tried in the dark in a fusillade of gunfire a tally of low numbers proving exact, concentric, a final balance of future life. Your hat, for the sun, bobbed up and down in the little space always granted you. Within me too, everything was weighed, and I have borne your name, a little further from hatred and envy. That red cap of yours was a mitre. a crown with aquiline wings. And now in your eagle-like ninetieth year, I wanted to speak to you, the signal-lamps of your departure tinged by the night light that casts the imperfect orbit of this earth on a stretch of narrow wall, far from the Arabian jasmine, where you are now, to say to you what I once could not – difficult affinity of thought – to say to you, so not merely the cicadas of Biviere, the agaves and mastics, hear, speak as the steward speaks to the master, ‘I kiss your hand.’ That, nothing more. Life is darkly strong. - Note: Lake Biviere lies among the beech woods of the Nebrodi Regional Park in Sicily.

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