I turned around … and there was Pasolini. Thank Christ.

 

 

I found myself thinking after this poem today. It’s a much familiar’ed favourite by the late Piere Paolo Pasolini. Exceptional. And beautiful.

 

 

The Resistance and its Light

 

Thus I came to the days of the Resistance
without knowing anything except style.
It was a style all of light,
memorable consciousness of sun.
It could never fade, even for an instant,
even as Europe trembled on the deadliest of eves.
We escaped with our household goods in a cart
from Casarsa, to a village lost
among canals and vineyards,
and it was pure light.
My brother left of a mute March morning in a clandestine train,
his pistol in a book, and it was pure light.
He lived long in the mountains
which shone almost paradisical
in the blue gloom
of the Friulian plain.
And it was pure light.
In the attic of the farmhouse
my mother always watched those mountains
hopelessly, already aware of fate
and it was pure light.
with a few peasants around
I lived the glorious life
persecuted by atrocious edicts,
and it was pure light.

 

Came the day of death and freedom:
the martyred world recognized itself anew
in the light . . .

 

That light was the hope for justice,
I didn’t know which justice.
All light is equal to all other light.
Then it changed: the light became uncertain dawn,
a growing dawn,
spreading over Friulian fields and canals.
It illuminated the struggling workers.
The rising dawn was thus a light
beyond the eternity of style . . .
In history, justice was consciousness
of a human division of wealth,
and hope took a new light.

 

 

I reproduced this particular translation from Roman Poems (1986) translated by Ferlinghetti & Valente, published by City Lights Books, San Francisco. (Also, I recently stumbled across this article on Pasolini – his life and death – at Open Democracy, if thou art interested.)

 

 

 

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