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The Sunflower

After Eugenio Montale — Portami il girasole

Bring me the sunflower so that I may plant it in my field
whose earth, exposed to winds from off the sea, is scorched and dry;
then all day long its troubled upturned face will be revealed,
sending a yellow signal to the blue reflecting sky.

Dark things seek their opposite — the clarity of day;
and bodies spend their substance in the urgent flux and flow
of colours, just as colours do in strains of music; so
it is the destiny of destinies to pass away.

Bring me the plant, my love, that leads the traveller to a place
where blond transparencies are formed and, as they form, take flight
and life unmakes itself, from solid essence into hazy space;
bring me the sunflower driven to insanity by light.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by Peter Hetherington

Portami il girasole — Eugenio Montale

Portami il girasole ch'io lo trapianti
nel mio terreno bruciato dal salino,
e mostri tutto il giorno agli azzurri specchianti
del cielo l'ansietà del suo volto giallino.

Tendono alla chiarità le cose oscure,
si esauriscono i corpi in un fluire
di tinte: queste in musiche. Svanire
è dunque la ventura delle venture.

Portami tu la pianta che conduce
dove sorgono bionde trasparenze
e vapora la vita quale essenza;
portami il girasole impazzito di luce.