From “Last Choruses for the Promised Land”
The days that are passed
And the others to come
Gathered, in the present.
For years and through the centuries
Surprised at every moment
In the knowledge we are still in life,
That living ever flows, always flowing,
Unexpected gift and pain
In the continuous whirl
Of empty change.
Such in keeping with our fate
Is this journey I continue,
In the flash of an instant
Unearthing and inventing
Time from first to last,
Refugee like all the others
Who have been, who are, who are to come.
We pass through the desert with vestiges
Of some earlier image in our mind,
A living man knows nothing else
About the Promised Land.
Let the hawk snatch me up in its blue talons
And, at the zenith of the sun,
Drop me on sand
As food for crows.
I will no longer shoulder mud,
I will be purified by fire,
The pointed squawking beaks,
The reeking ripping fangs of jackals.
Then the Bedouin will bring to light,
Laying bare in sand that he pokes
Around in with his walking stick,
A pure white mound of bones.
Love is no longer that tempest
That in nocturnal blindness
Still enthralled me not long ago
Between insomnia and crazy craving,
It flickers from a beacon
Toward which sails, serene,
The aged captain.[Translated from the Italian by Andrew Frisardi]
Copyright Hudson Review Spring 2002
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