Casa sul Mare – una poesia di / House by the Sea – a poem by (Eugenio Montale)

House by the Sea, Paros, Greece, painting by NM
House by the Sea, Paros, Greece, painting by NM
Casa sul Mare 
 
Il viaggio finisce qui:
nelle cure meschine che dividono 
l’anima che non sa più dare un grido.
Ora i minuti sono uguali e fissi
Come i giri di ruota della pompa.
Un giro: un salir d’acqua che rimbomba.
Un altro, altr’acqua, a tratti un cigolio.
 

casa sul mare2

 Il viaggio finisce a questa spiaggia
Che tentano gli assidui e lenti flussi.
Nulla disvela se non pigri fumi
La marina che tramano di conche
I soffi leni: ed è raro che appaia
Nella bonaccia muta
Tra l’isole dell’aria migrabonde
La Corsica
 dorsuta o la Capraia. 
House by the Sea, Paros, Greece, detail -  painting by NM
House by the Sea, Paros, Greece, detail – painting by NM
 
Tu chiedi se così tutto svanisce
In questa poca nebbia di memorie;
se nell’ora che torpe o nel sospiro
del frangente si compie ogni destino.
Vorrei dirti che no, che ti s’appressa
l’ora che passerai di là dal tempo;
forse solo chi vuole s’infinita,
e questo tu potrai, chissà, non io.
Penso che per i più non sia salvezza,
ma taluno sovverta ogni disegno,
passi il varco, qual volle si ritrovi.
Vorrei prima di cedere segnarti
codesta via di fuga
labile come nei sommossi campi
del mare spuma o ruga.
Ti dono anche l’avara mia speranza.
A’ nuovi giorni, stanco, non so crescerla:
l’offro in pegno al tuo fato, che ti scampi.
casa sul mare1
 
Il cammino finisce a queste prode
che rode la marea col moto alterno.
Il tuo cuore vicino che non m’ode
salpa già forse per l’eterno.
 
House by the Sea, Naoussa, Paros, Greece
House by the Sea, Naoussa, Paros, Greece
House by the Sea (translated by William Arrowsmith)
 
Here the journey ends: 
in these petty cares dividing
a soul no longer able to protest. 
Now minutes are implacable, regular
as the flywheel on a pump. 
One turn: a rumble of water rushing. 
Second turn: more water, occasional creakings.
 
casa2
 
Here the journey ends, on this shore
probed by slow, assiduous tides.
Only a sluggish haze reveals 
the sea woven with troughs
by the mils breezes: hardly ever
in that dead calm
does spiny Corsica or Capraia loom
through islands of migratory air.
 casa3
You ask: Is this how everything vanishes,
in this thin haze of memories?
Is every destiny fulfilled
in the torpid hour or the breaker’s sigh?
I would like to tell you: No. For you
the moment for your passage out of time is near:
transcendence may perhaps be theirs who want it,
and you, who knows, could be one of those. Not I.
There is no salvation, I think, for most,
but every system is subverted by someone, someone
breaks through, becomes what he wanted to be.  
Before I yield, let me help you find
such a passage out, a path
fragile a ridge or foam
in the furrowed sea.
And I leave you my hope, too meager
for my failing strength to foster
in days to come. I offer it
to you, my pledge to your fate, that you
break free.  
casa4
My journey ends on these shores
eroded by the to-and-fro of the tides.
Your heedless heart, so near, may even now
be lifting sail for the eternities.
casa5

Notes:

1. The poem “Casa sul Mare” is in the collection “Ossi di Seppia – Cuttlefish Bones”. It was published with the original poems and the english translation by Norton in 1992.

2. The critic and Montale’s friend Sergio Solmi observes about the “House by the Sea” that the poem adumbrates a theme dear to Montale, “the sense of a failed and enclosed life, despairing now of being equal to its original idea… escape from the ‘limbo of maimed existences’, succeed in living fully and saving itself”.

3. “For you the moment for your passage out of time is near”: is the “passage out of time” the poetic interpretation of “death”?

2 comments

  1. Out of context – yes.
    In this poem – no. On the contrary, I have the feeling it means “the passage beyong the death”, even “escape from death”,… but not for the author.
    So sad…

  2. Out of context – yes.
    In this poem – no. On the contrary, I have the feeling it means “the passage beyong the death”, even “escape from death”,… but not for the author.
    So sad…

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