This brief poem by Vittorio Sereni is composed of a series of anastrophes: these inverted sentences seem to have been assembled, taken apart, and then reassembled to lessen the pain of the inevitable death. And the rhythm is hiccupy as though set to the beat of sobs.

Quei tuoi pensieri di calamità  

e catastrofe
nella casa dove sei
venuto a stare, già
dall’idea di essere qui per morirci
– e questi che ti sorridono amici
questa volta sicuramente
stai morendo lo sanno e perciò
ti sorridono.
Vittorio Sereni
Those thoughts of yours of calamity  

and catastrophe
in the house where you have
come to stay, already
by the idea of having here to die
―and these who in friendship smile at you
this time surely
you are dying know and so
smile at you.

by Vittorio Sereni

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2022

From the collection Stella Variabile by Vittorio Sereni, Giulio Einaudi Editore.

For my father.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 thoughts on “Vittorio Sereni: Quei tuoi pensieri di calamità/ Those thoughts of yours of calamity

  1. Having friends smiling at you in the house where you have retired, perhaps eventually to die, is not such a catastrophe, is it? In fact, maybe a blessing … The ages of the person who is narrating, of the friends, the inhabitants, are all similar, with congratulations for the one (‘ti’) who has “made it.” There is no irony in this, only reassurance, is how I read it. Nice.


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