What shall we say tonight to the friend sleeping?
The slightest word leaps to our lips
from deepest pain. We'll look at our friend,
his useless lips that say nothing,
we'll speak submissively.
Night will resemble
the old grief each dusk returning,
impassive and alive. Remote silence
will suffer like a soul, mute, in the darkness.
We shall speak to the night which breathes submissively.
We shall hear the moments flow in the darkness
beyond things, in the anxiety of dawn
which will come suddenly, revealing objects
against the silence of death. Useless light
will lay bare the absorbed face of day. Moments
will be silent. And objects will speak submissively.
Cesare Pavese (1908-1950)
The poem is taken from a page opened at random from a book on the poetry shelf - a book not opened for decades.
The pages are brown with age - published 1971 -
In the foreword, translator and editor Margaret Crossland says that the poems "explore more clearly than his other writings Pavese's nostalgia for country life and childhood, his awareness of social change and his deep understanding of people as isolated as himself."
Also on the topic of poetry:
Seen in the media this week: an article, by the former head of the Poetry Society, about the uses (and abuses?) of memorising poetry.