Giovanni Raboni

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.



Giovanni Raboni

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).

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