Sunday, August 24, 2008

Haul your paper ships on the seared
shore, little captain,
and sleep, so you won't hear
the evil spirits setting sail in swarms.

In the kitchen garden the owl darts
and wet smoke hangs heavy on the roofs.
The moment that ruins the slow work of months
is here: now it cracks in secret, now shears with a gust.

The break is coming: maybe with no sound.
The builder knows his day of reckoning.
Only the grounded board is safe for now.
Tie up your flotilla in the canes.

Eugenio Montale
from Collected Poems 1920-1954
Bilingual Edition, translated by Jonathan Galassi

I have spent the weekend in the cool house, hiding from these last
few dog days of ninety degree temps, curled up in my recliner with
some of my brand new poetry books and a perfect tall glass of plain
iced tea with crushed ice. This Collected Poems, by Eugenio Montale
is especially nice and I have marked some of my favorites to share
with you in future posts. Like I mentioned the other day, I am
missing the brilliant beauty of the Italian lyrics, but his poetry is so
dense and deep it stands on it's own, even without the lovely rhythms.

~~photo by Benjamin Probanza, Flickr


  1. What a wonderful photo! And it's perfect with that beautiful poem. I'll have to try to read some of his work--I really like the ones you've highlighted here. We actually had a few days in the 80's which is very refreshing for these typically dog days of summer...enjoy the iced tea, Willow! Did you add a sprig of fresh mint?

  2. Willow it is such a pleasure to visit here. Thank you for your comment on my recent post. It does not suprise me that those we choose to bookmark as like-minded continue to delight us with similar things we love so much.The poem you have published is a great choice, and I will look further into the writings of such a talented and perceptive person.Thank you for the introduction.

  3. Beautiful photo Willow. Excellent poem too. What a great choice.

    We get excited if it gets to 70 here!

  4. Dear Willow
    Glad you stayed cool and were able to engross yourself in poetry.
    Thank you for sharing your treaasure with us. So much nicer getting crumbs from your table than gobblng up the whole cake in one orgiastic moment.
    I wait with bated breath for the next instalment.

  5. What a beautiful poem! I'd love to hear it in Italian, too! And what a perfect paper boat in the picture. It has been horribly hot and humid! :P

  6. BRUSH, yes! How did you know? I have so much mint, it's hard to thin it out!

    PAM, I'm always thrilled to have you visit and relish in our similar tastes.

    ARIJA, you are too, too kind!! Did you say cake?! I am suddenly hungry!

    BT, okay, I'm coming. My Irish DNA is calling me to sub-70 degree temps! Do you have a guest room?

    BETSY, yes, I need someone fluent in Italian to read it to me!

  7. Have read all your previous posts! What a lovely blog! Can't wait to try the recipes.

  8. The picture is wonderful and the poem is beautiful! Thanks for another lovely post!

  9. Great poem.
    Thanks for sharing.
    I will have to think on this one.
    I am forwarding it to my brother, the poet.

    Thanks for the visit, and yes a Moose Crossing sign was in order.
    Troy and Martha

  10. There's an award for you ate my blog. Please drop by. Thank you.

  11. Willow, the photo and poem fit so well. It's a wonderful poem and reminds me of the small sail boats that children sail in the ponds around Paris.

  12. I can visualise you curled up reading your poems and sipping iced-tea, a very contented picture appears. I'm still enjoying this poetry, and it seems to translate well.
    I'm going to curl up with a book, woolly blanket, and a hot chocolate to warm me up (doesn't seem right somehow!!).

  13. WOnderful Willow. I am also ready for the dog days of summer to be over!

  14. That's lovely Willow, and lovely pic too...
    Glad you liked my postcards :) I can see that peasant girl in the field on your walls somehow :)
    Wish we could have some of that heat!!
    x R

  15. What a beautiful photo! And the poem is also. :)

    We've been getting thunderstorms every day, that along with the heat is a very good reason to spend time in the cool house with a good book! And I loved your Plum Crumble recipe, I copied it! :D

  16. What a wonderful poem and photos! They fit so well together...the fountain is gorgeous too!

    I found your blog from Ces and congratulations on your award, which is well deserved!

    Your profile reminds me a lot of mine in many ways... among one thing, our grown "twenty-something" children...sure different than when our babies were in diapers and bottles, and hectic stages in life for sure!

    Anyway, you have a great blog and I'll definitely be checking back! Great works!


  17. Just won't be long before you are curled up with a hot cup of coffee (Starbucks of course) with some plum crumble! Yes....your crumble picture got me hungry!!!

  18. Yes, I am ready for these dog days to be over and cool breezes of fall to blow! Actually, today was very nice and we felt comfortable eating out on the patio.'s coming!

  19. I am so thankful temps around here have been in the 80's. Today was positively autumn-like in the early morning hours. It was great!

  20. The Sunday NY Times crossword contained strange answers designed as instructions for folding the puzzle into a little paper airplane. Difficult, but fun. Your little paper ship reminded me of it!

  21. You're welcome anytime, Willow. Bring wellingtons!! It would be better if you waited until the extension is done, then you can have a bedroom, not a floor!!

  22. Marvellous little treasure! And it's the fact that it's so short and it leaves you craving you for more that really works for me. I was already looking forward to the paper ship sailing forth to unknown waters, evadingt he evil spirits and suddenly the poem came to an end.

    Oh, well, at least yo will be positng some more. Will be back, for sure.

    Greetings from London.

  23. As Betsey wrote, a beautiful poem and the paper boat image is just perfect! A most enjoyable post!

  24. That image is so poetic,
    well done!

    I am so pleased that you enjoy discovering the great Eugenio Montale's poetry! Who knows, one day you may even take up Italian. ;-)

    Only yesterday did I come across a most wonderful line by another Italian poet, Giuseppe Ungaretti:

    Si sta come
    sugli alberi
    le foglie.

    ("Feeling like a leaf (on a tree) in autumn" - roughly translated - I am working on a better one, for a future post.)

  25. Merisi, funny that you mention Ungaretti. After I ordered the Montale book from Amazon, they recommended an Ungaretti book to me!

  26. I just put one of his books on hold at the library. Thanks for the post!


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)