“It’s no longer here,” insinuates a voice startling me/ “the heart of your town”
“Non è più qui” insinua una voce di sorpresa
Io non so che rispondere e osservo
“Non è più qui, ma dove?” mi domando
“It’s no longer here,” insinuates a voice startling me
I don’t know what to reply and observe
“It’s no longer here, but where?” I ask myself
Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019
This poem is from the collection Nel magma, published in 1963. In this work Luzi reflects on the consequences of the so-called “affluent society”, and on its illusoriness, on what was gained and what was lost.
In the poem, as in life, progress upsets the traditional layout of the town; and in his voice we hear the dismay of those who are banned from the new productive fabric. He questions the collective euphoria brought on by the changes, where people are both happy and anxious (un po’ felice un po’ spauriti).
The poetic elements include: anaphora (“it’s no longer here”, first line of the first and third stanzas), which underlines the poet’s uncertainties with regards to the changes in the city; metaphor api (workers/ bees), which is reinforced in v. 19 with the word brulicame (literally swarm, of thoughts). The language is flowing and direct, and strongly contrasting: the poet mixes words that are refined with the language of the streets (for example viridario v.8, and quaglia poco v. 18).
The contrast between past and present echoes in the choice of words like antico v. 8, vecchi, v. 11, and archaic words like viridario v. 8, and the antri v.11 (literally cubbyholes), used to represent the workshops of the artisans, places that seem to be from a distant past.
The uncertainty of this new city, and, therefore, this new life, is expressed through the use of enjambments vv. 2-3, vv. 18-19. The victims of progress are the artisans who, in “halting/ conversations” and “lost train/ of swarming thoughts” are in search of their place in society, a pole. His use of the word heart, cuore, is both in reference to the physical centre of the ancient city where the artisans once had their workshops, and the soul of that city, an identity.
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