The thought of death accompanies me
between the two walls of this street,
which moves and pains along its curves.
The spring cold irritates the colors,
stuns the grass, the wisteria, makes harsh
the flint; under hoods and shelters,
it pricks dry hands and sends a chill.
Time that suffers and makes suffering, time
that in a clear whirlwind, brings flowers
mixed with cruel appearances, and each one,
while you ask what it is, quickly disappears
into the dust and the wind.
The path is for noted places
that if are not made unreal,
await exile and death.
You who are, I who have become,
I who roam in such a windy space,
a man behind an ending, weak trail!
It’s incredible that I look for you in this place,
or in any other place on earth where
we can recognize one another.
But it is still an age, my age,
that expects from others,
that which is us or does not exist.
Love helps us to live, to endure,
love cancels and gives us a beginning. And when
one suffers, or lifelessly hopes – if one hopes
that a rescue can be announced from afar,
then there is a breath enough big within him to awaken it.
This I have learned and forgotten a thousand times,
now from you this clear fact returns to me,
now it has vividness and truth.
My pain is to last beyond this moment.
Mario Luzi (1914-2005), from Primizie del deserto, Milano, Schwartz, 1952 (translation by Slow Words)
The cover image is: Anonimo intagliatore from: Jacopo de’ Barbari, Veduta di Venezia a volo d’uccello, Venezia, Museo Correr, 2016 © Archivio
The work has been on show at ‘Aldo Manuzio. Il Rinascimento di Venezia’, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice (IT), 2016