A found poem

I saw this poem carved on a plaque on the wall of “Palazzo Barberis” in the sassi of Matera, in (presumably original) Italian and an English translation (both unattributed).

Quegli uomini

Quegli uomini non ridevano
e parlavano quando era necessario,
non erano dolci con le loro donne:
erano incapaci di carezze e parole d’amore.
Quegli uomini si accoppiavano su un letto alto,
gonfio di foglie di granturco,
e mettevano al mondo nidiate di bimbi scalzi
quando erano ubriarchi o per non morire di rabbia.
Quegli uomini, ombre silenziose,
si muovevano come formiche concitate,
sopravvivendo a tutte le disavventure
che la vita serbava loro.
Quegli uomini avevano dignità da vendere.
Nessuno la scambi per disprezza.
Oggi in queste case in cui morivano
i due terzi dei nati per tifo, fabbri malariche o altro,
si celebra la nostra vanità.
Quegli uomini ritratti vicino al mulo,
condensati di impotenza e di miseria,
sono il nostro “falso orgoglio”,
reliquie sacre di un mondo
che ci appartiene per comodità
o per mancanza di radici.
Quegli uomini se tornassero in vita,
riderebbero di cuore
per tanta falsità
creata intorno a loro.

Those men

Those men didn’t laugh
And they spoke only when necessary
They were not gentle with their women:
They were incapable of giving a caress
Or of speaking words of love
Those men coupled on the high beds
The mattresses filled with maize leaves
And they brought forth with litters of barefoot children
When they were drunk or to avoid being killed by their rage
Those men, silent shadows,
Moved around like agitated ants
Surviving through all the misfortunes
That life had in store for them
Those men had more than enough dignity
Do not mistake it for contempt
Today in these houses in which, of those born,
Two thirds would die of typhus, malaria or other diseases,
Our vanity is celebrated.
Those men portrayed beside their mule
A distilled picture of powerlessness and poverty.
Are our “false pride”
Sacred relics of a world
That belongs to us only as a commodity
Or to satisfy our lack of roots
Those men, if they came back to life
Would laugh heartily
At all the false sentiments
Created around them.

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About middleeuropeanmelancholy

64 year old Australian born male. Into travel, poetry, philosophy, music, popular physics, mathematics (especially topology)...
This entry was posted in Italy, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

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