Poem of the Week


CC license, photo by txkimmers

The Poem of the Week is back, reposted from the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre.

From Smoke by Marosa di Giorgio, translated by Susan Briante

In order to revive the orange age, you must assemble all of the witnesses, all those who suffered, those who laughed and even the youngest and those who were furthest away.

You must rekindle your grandmothers; make them come with their great crucifixes of cinnamon in tow and well-nailed with those large aromatic cloves, just as when they lived surrounded by fire and syrup.

You must interrogate the gillyflower and harass her with questions, until not a single purple detail is lost.

You must talk with the butterfly, seriously, and savage roosters with their hoarse voices and great silver talons.

And the veronicas shall come from way back when, pale veronicas—wandering among the flowers and smoke and trees—and the face of sugar, the portrait of the figs shall return.

And advise the wisteria so that they bring their old resemblance to grape. And the populous pomegranate, and the procession of yuccas, and the guardian of the loquat tree, yellow and hateful, and my mane of hair from that time, all of it full of witches and planets, and the wandering livestock and the angel of the hills and of the amethysts—with one pink and one blue wing —and the lemon blossoms, as big as spikenards.

And all of the silverplated cages shall come and all of the colored bottles and the keys and the fans and the Christmas cake standing on its cherry stilts.

In order to revive the orange age, you cannot forget anyone, you must call everyone, most importantly the smoke man, who is the most serious and the most delicate and the most beloved.

And you must invite God.

This section from ‘Smoke’ is copyright © Shearsman, 2011; translation © Susan Briante, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of Shearsman Books from Hotel Lautréamont: Contemporary Poetry from Uruguay, edited by Kent Johnson and Roberto Echavarren.

One Response to “Poem of the Week”
  1. Thomas Davis says:

    Robert Graves believed that all poetry must have, if it is to be actual poetry, a core of holy celebration. He believed that only sacred poetry dedicated to the White Goddess truly qualified to make hair stand up on the back of your neck, paraphrasing Housman, but this poem has some of the elements–not the rhythmic elements–of Celtic poetry before the coming of Christianity: The lists of the flowers and the other important beings of life like grandmothers. This is really an interesting work.

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