Uomo del mio tempo
Sei ancora quello della pietra e della fionda,
uomo del mio tempo. Eri nella carlinga,
con le ali maligne, le meridiane di morte,
t’ho visto – dentro il carro di fuoco, alle forche,
alle ruote di tortura. T’ho visto: eri tu,
con la tua scienza esatta persuasa allo sterminio,
senza amore, senza Cristo. Hai ucciso ancora,
come sempre, come uccisero i padri, come uccisero
gli animali che ti videro per la prima volta.
E questo sangue odora come nel giorno
Quando il fratello disse all’altro fratello:
«Andiamo ai campi». E quell’eco fredda, tenace,
è giunta fino a te, dentro la tua giornata.
Dimenticate, o figli, le nuvole di sangue
Salite dalla terra, dimenticate i padri:
le loro tombe affondano nella cenere,
gli uccelli neri, il vento, coprono il loro cuore.
Man of my time
You are still a man of the sling and of the stone,
man of my time. You were in the cockpit,
with the malignant wings, the dials of death,
I saw you – in the chariot of fire, on the gallows,
at the breaking wheel. I saw you: it was you,
with your exact science wooing slaughter,
without love, without Christ. You killed again,
as always, as your fathers killed, as those animals
that saw you for the first time killed.
And this blood smells of the blood that day
When one brother said to another brother:
“Let’s go to the fields.” And that cold echo, dogged,
passed down to you, within your day.
Forget, oh sons, the clouds of blood
Lifted from the earth, forgotten by your fathers:
their tombs sink into the ashes,
the black vultures, the wind, cover their hearts.
Translation ©Matilda Colarossi
The poem by Salvatore Quasimodo, Uomo del mio tempo, is last poem in the collection Giorno dopo giorno, in Tutte le poesie, Mondadori, Oscar Grandi Classici, 1994
The theme of the poem is the unchangeable nature of man, who is still the same as he was millions of years ago, the same as the man «of the sling and of the stone», guided by instinct, emotions and egotism. And even though science has made giant steps forward, only the quality and technology of the arms we use today has changed. Men driven by a thirst for power wage wars that lead to suffering and destruction. The innocent are their victims. Man today, as the poet states, has lost respect for his brother, has forgotten what solidarity is, and is anything but restrained from violence by religion. He is exactly the same beast he once was. To break the chain of violence, we must break with the past, break away from the mentality of our fathers because: their tombs sink into the ruins of their own destruction while vultures and the wind cover their hearts.
Painting: The battle of Anghiari, Peter Paul Rubens
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