Di tutto questo
non c’è più niente (o forse qualcosa
s’indovina, c’è ancora qualche strada
acciottolata a mezzo, un’osteria).
Qui, diceva mio padre, conveniva
venirci col coltello … Eh sì, il Naviglio
è a due passi, la nebbia era più forte
prima che lo coprissero … Ma quello
che hanno fatto, distruggere le case,
distruggere quartieri, qui e altrove,
a cosa serve? Il male non era
lì dentro, nelle scale, nei cortili,
nei ballatoi, lì semmai c’era umido
da prendersi un malanno. Se mio padre
fosse vivo, chiederei anche a lui: ti sembra
che serva? e il modo? A me sembra che il male
non è mai nelle cose, gli direi.
Of all this
there is nothing left (or perhaps something
can be perceived, a road or two still
cobbled in part, a tavern).
Here, my father would say, you had
to carry a knife…Yes, the Naviglio*
is a stone’s throw away, the fog was thicker
before they buried it…But what
they did, destroying the houses,
destroying neighbourhoods, here and elsewhere,
what good was it? The evil was not
in there, in the stairwells, in the courtyards,
in the galleries, if anything there it was humid
enough to make you sick. If my father
were alive, I’d ask him: what good do you think
it did? and the way they did it? I believe
evil is never in the things, I’d tell him.
Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019
Giovanni Raboni’s poetry rotates around two main themes: Reality and memory. In the poem Risanamento, written in the mid-fifties, these two elements come together perfectly. What we have is a picture, a bitter reflection, of the times we are living. His easy tone, tranquil almost, does not take away from the harsh message: we look for evil in what surrounds us, in the streets, in the quarters, but it isn’t a part of what lies outside. It is an evil we carry inside. The title of the poem, Risanamento, can be translated in a variety of ways: recovery, reorganization, renovation, rebuilding…I opted for restoration, because in it I found the sense the poem had for me, that is, that humanity, not the urban landscape, is really the only thing that needs to be restored.
*Naviglio: a channel that runs through Milan.
The poem Risanamento is from the collection A tanto caro sangue (1988).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.