Speak, tell me then: It was a dream:
A vision in a tortured mind:
The spasm of a wounded dream:
The anguish of an intrusive distress.
I am suffering and tense and my heart is torn asunder.
Speak, tell me, you: You dreamed it
Do not gaze upon me, rapt in pain,
With that sad and worried look.
Tell me… but no… the ghastly thing is true!
True! Do they lie still and degraded,
Weeping shadows in that dark night,
Pale Hamlets, limp and lost?
After … in the streets, in the hills, overlooking the plains
Our anger advances like a storm
- Which, swift, gloomy and monstrous -
Baits and challenges and overwhelms and tears apart and tramples underfoot.
Whereupon the whirlwind is unleashed and lightning bolts
Bridge every deep and tragic chasm
As massed terrors erupt into flame,
Eventually reducing the world to ruins.
Last night, friends, I saw one of them.
It's hard to talk… In my throat
A swirling, noiseless choking…
All words strangled by a sob.
That face shrouded in love's glow
Loomed between the tightly-bound irons;
With its fearless, scornful silence
It spoke disdain for life and fetters.
It made not a murmur, not a whimper
Not a stray tear in the eyes.
I, breath bated at the recollection,
Can feel the drops of sweat upon my brow.
To stand beside you, impotent and transfixed
As you broke under the torment inside…
With mind spinning, darkening
And… curses… to be powerless to do anything!
Amid the clouds the fatal moment looms;
Amid rumbling ghosts the day breaks;
And from the yard to those damned walls
Grim spite slips the traces and rears up…
And of Him who strides as if towards a throne,
For that inertia of mine, for that misdeed,
I try to plead, to crave forgiveness…
But with lips quivering from a broken heart.
Handsome, strong, ecstatic, solemn,
Amid the rifles trained upon him,
A luminous giant he then becomes,
Defying the mob, the lies, the Fates;
When the order came to "Fire!"
A quivering ardour swelled his breast,
And he cried "Viva.!"' to his creed…
And the rising sun drank in his cry.
Wrap him in your fulsome embrace, O Liberty;
Clutch those scattered locks to your clear skies;
Did ever a more faithful lover
Come to die between your arms?
From the earth that in life quickened his blood;
From the recesses of ghastly imprisonment:
From the secret places where pain whimpers;
From the abysses of pain and passion;
Comes the boom of a like cry;
A crash stirs and fades and gasps;
Earth and heavens ooze terror
And condemnation falls upon the outrageous deed.
Roses of blood cloak that beautiful body
Whilst the heavens are marooned in its eyes…
A nightingale sings sweetly
And the dawn melts into a thin mist…
When, in his adolescent years, he strolled through the woods
Proud amid the hills and rose boughs.
When through the fields he strode undaunted
Along the vine-scented paths;
When the Abruzzo from its enchanted woodland
Strew his path and heart with dreams…
And the sluggish river, laden with regrets
Turned sweetness into love sickness;
When the sun bleached his hair to gold
And his mouth sampled primroses,
And from cliff and rugged gorge
He sought only the echoing songs and haunts
Life, that dark and baleful spectre,
Laid snares along his path…
Then, having wounded him in his soul,
Tossed him into the stormy waters of his fate.
And even as he scoured the hills and mountains
For a dream of ecstatic glory…
A lonely farmhouse beyond the quiet bridges
Lilted sadly: A cradle of memories…
O world, O abject world of Cains;
That imposes your infamies with laws.
And murders the Just man and the Rebel
And erects temples and thrones upon the gore.
World of frauds and sly middle-men.
Of thieves, dealers and cheats;
World of filthy, well-fed bellies
Replete with horrendous, dark crimes;
I, poet of the mob, of pain
Would love to seize you by the throat this day;
And, rest assured … into the mire and the base clay
Would fain plunge your snout.
And, become two mighty talons,
Dig them deep into your breast;
To watch the life ebb gradually from you…
Whilst chortling … O accursed world!
From: L'Adunata dei Refrattari, 28 March 1931. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.