Meriggiare pallido e assorto

 

Eugenio Montale

 

Meriggiare pallido e assorto

presso un rovente muro d’orto,

ascoltare tra i pruni e gli sterpi

schiocchi di merli, frusci di serpi.

 

Nelle crepe del suolo o su la veccia

spiar le file di rosse formiche

ch’ora si rompono ed ora s’intrecciano

a sommo di minuscole biche.

 

Osservare tra frondi il palpitare

lontano di scaglie di mare

mentre si levano tremuli scricchi

di cicale dai calvi picchi.

 

E andando nel sole che abbaglia

sentire con triste meraviglia

com’è tutta la vita e il suo travaglio

in questo seguitare una muraglia

che ha in cima cocci aguzzi di bottiglia.

 

Noonday slumber pallid and rapt

 

Eugenio Montale

 

Noonday slumber, pallid and rapt

near a scorching wall round a garden patch,

listening among the thorns and bristles

to blackbirds chirp, to serpents rustle.

 

In the riven soil or on the vine

spying red ants all in rows

as they now break and now intertwine

on the crests of tiny knolls.

 

Observing through the leaves

the distant throb of scaly seas

while of the cicadas tremulous clicks

filter down from bald peaks.

 

And walking in the blinding sun

sensing with desolate wonder

how life and its labours

are the incessant passage along a stone fence

topped with broken bottles and shards of glass.

 

 

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

 

The poem Meriggiare pallido e assorto was written by Eugenio Montale in 1916, and is part of the collection Ossi di Seppia. In this arid landscape, in the blinding sun, the poet senses all the tragedy of life. The “scorching wall round a garden patch” is reflected, in the last stanza, in the “stone fence/topped with broken bottles and shards of glass” and is an imagery that is typical of Montale. It is a question of suffering and pain: life is “labour” and we move incessantly along a stone fence in the scorching sun, a fence that is impossible to climb because of the shards of glass, and which keeps us from a better life, possibly, or, simply, from understanding.

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