LAMPEDUSA (AGRIGENTO), 24 NOVEMBER 2019 – Seven bodies, of the twenty gone missing, have been retrieved after the shipwreck yesterday at a mile from the coast of Lampedusa…


Erri De Luca


Nei canali di Otranto e Sicilia

migratori senz’ali, contadini di Africa e di oriente

affogano nel cavo delle onde.

Un viaggio su dieci s’impiglia sul fondo,

il pacco dei semi si sparge nel solco

scavato dall’ancora e non dall’aratro.

La terraferma Italia è terrachiusa.

Li lasciamo annegare per negare.


Erri De Luca


In the straits of Otranto and Sicily

migrants with no wings, farmers from Africa and the east

drown in the hollow of the waves.

One sail out of ten gets tangled in the seafloor,

the bag of seeds is strewn in the groove

raked by the anchor and not the plough.

The Italian mainland is sealed land.

We leave them to drown to disown them.


Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019

The migration crisis that often ends in tragic death is the theme of this brief poem from Opera sull’acqua e altre poesie (2002), the author’s first collection of poems. In the poem, De Luca denounces the indifference that surrounds the phenomenon.

Unfortunately today, November 24, 2019 is no different from then. Seventeen years have passed and nothing has changed, in the indifference of us all:

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