Realism(s) #15, or: this needle of the world


A huge thunderstorm
rolled around in coils all afternoon above
the roof-tops before it broke in flashes and sheeted down.
I stared at the lines of cement and glass
that walled up screams and wounds and limbs
including mine, which I have survived. Warily, looking
now up at the roof-tiles doing battle, now at the dry page,
I listened to the word
of a poet perish or change
into another voice we no longer hear. The oppressed
are oppressed and quiet, quietly the oppressors
talk on the phone, hatred is polite, and even I
believe I no longer know who is to blame.

Write, I tell myself, hate
those who sweetly lead into nothingness
the men and women who walk beside you
and believe they do not know. Write your name too
among those of the enemy. The storm
has passed away with all its bluster. Nature
is far too feeble to mimic battles. Poetry
changes nothing. Nothing is certain, but write.

--Franco Fortini, Translating Brecht, written 1957-62. Trans. Paul Lawton.


Matthew Flanagan said...

Image: Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (João César Monteiro, 1969).

Andy Rector said...

Is the title of the selected Fortini poems by this translator called "Summer is not all"?

Matthew Flanagan said...

Yes, that's the one, Andy -- I prefer it here to the earlier translation by Michael Hamburger...