225 men, women and children have died in the Mediterranean in the first 40 days of 2023. This means over 5 deaths a day, on average, as the world looks on in almost total indifference.

I pesci del Mediterraneo

Erri De Luca    

Prendete e mangiatene tutti.  

Questi sono i corpi planati  

a braccia aperte sul fondale.  

In terra sono stati crocifissi,  

ora sono del mare e di voi pesci.  

Prendete e mangiatene tutti,  

che non avanzi niente,  

nessuna delle corde vocali  

che hanno gridato al vento.  

Fate questo in memoria di noi  

che rimaniamo a riva.  

Lasciatevi afferrare dalle reti  

per essere venduti sul banco del mercato,  

dove i sopravvissuti furono venduti.  

Sarete sulle nostre tavole imbandite.  

Di voi sazi di loro, mangeremo tutto.  

Conservate una spina per le nostre gole,  

toglietela dalla corona dei perduti.  
The fish of the Mediterranean

  Erri De Luca    

Take and eat.  

For these are the bodies which slipped  

arms wide onto the sea floor.  

On land they were crucified,  

now they belong to the sea and to you, fish.

Take and eat,  

so that nothing is left,  

not one of the vocal cords  

that shouted to the wind.  

Do this in memory of us  

who remain ashore.  

Let yourselves be caught in the nets  

to be sold on a stall in the marketplace,  

where the survivors were sold.  

You will be on our lavishly decked tables.  

Of you, satiated with them, we will eat every part.  

Conserve a fish thorn for our throats,  

take it from the crown of those lost.    

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2023      

I would like to thank Erri De Luca for allowing me to translate this beautiful poem and post it here on my blog. As always, he writes of the injustice around us, and with his words, plants seeds which will hopefully become flowers of empathy.

The poem was first published here: https://fondazionerrideluca.com/web/per-i-pesci-del-mediterraneo/

More works by the author can be found here: https://paralleltexts.blog/tag/erri-de-luca/

I especially suggest the reading of this wonderful book: https://www.feltrinellieditore.it/opera/opera/solo-andata-1/

A number of poems from the book can be found here: https://www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/2019/04/16/translation-tuesday-two-poems-by-erri-de-luca/

Image: Fish magic, Paul Klee 1925, found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

4 thoughts on “Erri De Luca: I pesci del Mediterraneo/ The fish of the Mediterranean

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