Eugenio Montale


translated by Alan Tucker


Lo sai: debbo riperderti e non posso.
Come un tiro aggiustato mi summuove
ogni opera, ogni grido e anche lo spiro
salino che straripa
dai moli e fa l'oscura primavera
di Sottoripa.

Paese di ferrame e alberature
a selva nella polvere del vespro.
Un ronzo lungo viene dall'aperto,
strazia com'unghia ai vetri. Cerco il segno
smarrito, il pegno solo ch'ebbi in grazia
da te.

               E l'inferno certo.


You know: I'm losing you and it's impossible.
Everything you do hits home, the wave
flings spray in my face over the sea wall
the April sun strikes across the channel
at Weymouth

titanium steel mastheads ring their futile bells
slapping the shrouds the wind whines
scrapes like a nail on glass. I look
without hope for the lost sign
the only promise I had from you

               And hell is certain




NOTE: Sottoripa (in the original) is a Roman site near Genoa. Weymouth's sea wall is a reasonable localisation. Galassi (p517-8) notes that Eastbourne, another poem assumed to be addressed to Clizia, dating from 1933/35, and apparently recording a bank-holiday Montale spent on the English south coast, may be intended to be read by her as being set in New England.


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