Mi desto dal penoso sonnodi

Camillo Sbarbaro


Mi desto dal penoso sonno solo
nel cuore della notte.
Tace intorno
la casa come vuota e laggiù brilla
silenzioso coi suoi lumi un porto.
Ma sì freddi e remoti son quei lumi
e sì alto il silenzio nella casa
che mi levo sui gomiti in ascolto.
Improvviso terrore mi sorprende
il fiato e allarga nella notte gli occhi:
separata dal resto della casa
separata dal resto della terra
è la mia vita ed io son solo al mondo.

Poi il ricordo delle trite vie
e dei nomi e dei volti consueti
emerge come spiaggia da marea
e di me sorridendo mi riadagio.

Ma svanita col sonno la paura,
un gelo in fondo all’anima rimane:
io tra gli uomini vado
curioso di lor ma come estraneo;
ed alcuno non ho nelle cui mani
metter le mani
e col quale di me dimenticarmi.

Tal che se l’acque e gli alberi non fossero
e l’amica presenza delle cose
che accompagna il mio viver quaggiù
penso che morirei di solitudine…

Ma gli occhi restano crudelmente asciutti.


I awake from painful sleep

Camillo Sbarbaro


I awake from painful sleep alone
in the heart of the night.
Quiet all around
my home as if empty and there glows
silently, its lamps alight, a port.
But so cold and distant are those lamps
and so loud the silence in the house
that I raise myself on my elbows to listen.
Sudden terror catches
my breath and widens in the dark my eyes:
separated from the rest of the house
separated from the rest of the earth
is my life and I am alone in the world.

Then the memory of tired lanes
and of names and faces met
emerges like the sands from the waves
and at myself I laugh soothed anew.

Although vanished with sleep is my fear,
a chill in my soul still remains:
among other men I walk
curious about them but like a stranger;
and there is no-one whose hands
meet my hands
and with whom to forget myself.

Such that if the waters and trees were not
and the friendly presence of things
that accompany me through my life here
I believe I would die of loneliness…

But my eyes remain pitilessly dry.

Translation by ©Matilda Colarossi

Camillo Sbarbaro was born in Santa Margherita Ligure in 1888: he collaborated with the newspapers the « Voce » and the « Riviera Ligure »; was a soldier in WWI, and lived in Genoa, somewhat isolated from the active literary scene of the times.

This poem, Mi desto dal penoso sonno, from the collection Pianissimo, published in 1914, like many of his works, presents the main themes of Sbarbaro’s poetry: the solitude of modern man, his existential aridity, and his detachment from the world.  It was re-written with variations in 1960.

Other poems by Camillo Sbarbaro can be found on parallel here: https://paralleltexts.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/taci-anima-stanca-di-godere-you-are-still-my-soul-by-camillo-sbarbaro/

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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