Saturday, 25 July 2009

Salvatore Quasimodo

Selected poems from Salvatore Quasimodo "To Give and To Have" (1942), translated by Edith Farnsworth.



Every sweetness having gone from life
you praise the dream; toward unknown shores advancing
may your day approach
in which still waters dense with angels
of encircling green trees barely stir.

Your infinite day; to overtake each hour
which seemed to you eternal,
youthful laughter, pain,
where formerly you sought the secret
birth of night and day.

And Your Dress Is White
Bent is your head and you regard me
and your dress is white
and one breast can be seen under the lace
falling from your left shoulder.

The light overpowers me; quivering,
it touches your naked arms.

Again I see you. Words
you had that were mute and rapid,
giving a heart
to the burden of a life
which seemed a carrousel.

Dark was the road
by which the wind came down
those nights in March
and wakened us,
strangers as on the first evening.

You invoke a life

Task of love, sadness
you invoke a life
that deep within has names
of skies and gardens.

And were it my flesh
which the gift of evil alters!


You laugh because I flay myself for syllables
and bend the skies and hills, the azure hedge
surrounding me, the rusting elms,
the voices of the anxious waters;
because I beguile my youth
with clouds and colours
which the light dissolves.

I know, all that in you is lost
exalts the fair, the breasts,
curves with the thighs and gently
broadens for the timid arch;
in formal harmony descends
to the ten shells of the pretty feet.

But if I should take you,
In words, you too would be sadness.


Pure white the angel sleeps
on roses of air,
upon her side,
her fair hands crossed
beside her breast.

My voice awakens her,
and she is smiling;
strewn with pollen
is the proffered cheek.

She sings; the opaque sky
of dawn assails my heart.
Mine is the angel;
frigid, I take her in my arms.

Hidden Life

It filters time and space
and has no light of presage
in the apathy of the grasses;
and the wind, the fresh wind pours
no web of tones, no quick illuminations;
when it is silent the sky, too, is alone.

Give me hidden life,
and if you do not know me deep concealed,
the night, ethereal sea.

I drown: and with each syllable you mean
that from the earth it mines its gleam
and in the dark expands;
tree it becomes or rock or blood
in palpitating essence
which in itself degenerates, 
myself, exfoliate from the suffering
which renders me serene, love's depths.


  1. These, too, are masterpieces! AWESOME! Thanks, dude!

  2. Ah he struggles with loss of innocence and the furor of passion... ;-)

  3. Jach, yes! Delighted you like them. Dreamy and mysterious, magic from a deeper place. But some of your poetry is mined from the same place, like your "Conspiracy of Elements" poem,
    and many more besides which I don't have the links to.

  4. Cyn, you read him better than I do and capture the idea so succinctly. I wouldn't have guessed it myself, but all these poems were written when he was in his twenties. And I much prefer these poems to any of his later work.

    I don't understand the meaning so well myself, but it somehow speaks to the subconscious.

  5. i am attuned to angst... My children are 23 and 19... ;-))))