Showing posts with label The Wall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Wall. Show all posts

06 February 2021

Translation: Salvatore Quasimodo The Wall

Giorgio de Chirico, The Uncertainty of the Poet
The Wall 

They build a wall against you
in silence, stone and limestone stone and hate,
each day from higher up
they drop the plumb line. The masons
are all the same, small, dark
in the face, evil. On top of the wall
they mark judgements on the duties
of the world, and if the rain erases them
they rewrite them, with even larger
geometric forms. Once in a while, someone falls
from the scaffolding and immediately another one
runs to take his place. They do not wear
blue overalls and speak an allusive tongue.
The stone wall is high,
in the holes of the beams now crawl
geckos and scorpions, dark weeds hang.
The dark vertical defence shirks
from a certain horizon only the meridians
of the earth, and the sky does not cover it.
On the other side of this shield
you do not ask for grace or mayhem.

From Quasimodo’s 1959 Nobel Prize speech:

The corruption of the concept of culture, as seen in the masses, who believe they have obtained access to the paradise of knowledge, is not a modern political phenomenon; however, the methods used to manifoldly diffuse the meditative interests of man are new and faster. Optimism has become tangible. It’s just a memory game. Myths and fairytales (let’s say human anxiety about supernatural events) have degraded into the “murder mystery,” undergone visual metamorphoses in the movies or in epic tales about innovators or crime. We cannot choose between the poet and the politician. The irony of “the worldly circles,” which sometimes can be a facet of constructed indifference, reduces culture to the dark corner of its history, affirming that the framework of dissent is dramatised, that man and his pain have been and will be trapped in their usual confines, over the years, today as tomorrow. Certainly. But the poet also knows that there is an ordeal, an exacerbation of the drama; he knows that the adulators of culture are also its fanatical incendiaries: the collage of writing composed under any regime corrupts, at their center and periphery, literary groups that vie for eternity with their scant calligraphies of the soul, with the varnish of their impossible intellectual life. At particular moments in history, the cultural secretly unites against the political: it’s a temporary unity that serves to tear down the walls of dictatorship. This force establishes itself under any dictatorship, when it coincides with the quest for the basic liberties of man. This unity disintegrates as soon as, beaten the dictator, the chain of factions arises.

The poet is alone: the wall of hate rises around him as literary companies of mercenaries throw the stones. The poet considers the world from this wall, and, without going from town square to town square, like the bards, or into the “worldly” world, like men of letters, but precisely from this ivory tower so dear to those who seek to tear to shreds the romantic soul, he enters the realm of the people, not only of their desires and feelings, but also of their jealous political thoughts.