Thursday, July 8, 2010

in the greenhouse

The lemon bushes overflowed
with the patter of mole paws,
the scythe shined
in its rosary of cautious water drops.

A dot, a ladybug,
ignited above the quince berries
as the snort of a rearing pony broke through,
bored with his rub-down—then the dream took over.

Kidnapped, and weightless, I was drenched
with you, your outline
was my hidden breath, your face
merged with my face, and the dark

idea of God descended
upon the living few, amid heavenly
sounds, amid childish drums,
amid suspended globes of lightning

upon me, upon you, and over the lemons...

In the Greenhouse by Eugenio Montale
translated by Charles Wright

I was introduced to Eugenio Montale, 1975 Nobel Laureate, by the lovely Merisi, who often posts his work on her blog. Unfortunately, I don't speak Italian, the original language in which he composed, so a bit of the magic is lost. But, even translated into English, his poetry is marvelous. I found a little soft cover book of his poetry the last time I visited my favorite little second hand bookshop; you know, the one with the creaky hardwood floors.

photo from google images


  1. Simply Luscious. I can only imagine how it must read in Italian (because I do not speak it). The image is also lovely.

  2. Not there just to prune the roses, then eh, Willow! Italian will sound great but much better to understand it!

  3. Wow -- this is lovely!
    "The dark idea of God descended ..." -- amazing!

  4. Thank you for the poem WIllow, I need a good one each day and this is it.


    S'empì d'uno zampettìo
    di talpe la limonaia,
    brillò in un rosario di caute
    gocce la falce fienaia.

    S'accese sui pomi cotogni,
    un punto, una cocciniglia,
    si udì inalberarsi alla striglia
    il poney - e poi vinse il sogno.

    Rapito e leggero ero intriso
    di te, la tua forma era il mio
    respiro nascosto, il tuo viso
    nel mio si fondeva, e l'oscuro

    pensiero di Dio discendeva
    sui pochi viventi, tra suoni
    celesti e infantili tamburi
    e globi sospesi di fulmini

    su me, su te, sui limoni...

  6. This is so beautiful...thank you Willow...these words will play in my head all day!

  7. DR, thank you. The original piece is truly delicious.

  8. the patter of mole paws! oooh.

  9. oh willow that is just fabulous...thanks for the intro!

  10. It keeps changing..full of surprise..magic realism, it seems to me...

  11. This is beautiful, thank you for sharing and thank you DR for the Italian original.

  12. Wow I really love that poem. In fact I just came back to read it again. I hope I don't sound trite comparing it to a "rock" song but I've been thinking of Van Morrison's (not trite song) "In the Garden" ever since reading.

    Thanks for sharing another one of your wonderful finds with us Willow.

  13. Love the "childish drums" and the globes of lightning! A sonorous, beautiful piece of poetry!

  14. Beautiful words into magic. Thanks for the vicarious introduction. -j

  15. Beautiful poem and a lovely image too.

  16. to me the poem seems to change half way through to become magical and dreamlike.

  17. I always feel frustrated when I know I'm reading a translated piece, but this is very lovely in English!

  18. Love this! Will have to seek out more of Mr. Montale. Thanks to DR for the Italian version. Thanks to you, willow, for finding this--and the perfect photograph to accompany it.

  19. ooooh, would I love to be in that greenhouse...with a face merging with my face...

    Lovely to read a new poet (new to me), Willow ~ thank you.

  20. Italian HAS to be the world's most beautiful language, but it's translation doesn't always distract. Maybe we shouldn't have known that it had been translated.

    Bisou, Cro. (38 degrees C here today)

  21. Eugenio Montale is now on my ever increasing list of poets 'to read'.

  22. I love Eugenio Montale and have posted my favorite poem of his on my own blog several times. It's called I Limoni and is in my very beaten-up copy of Selected Poems by Eugenio Montale. I highly recommend the poem and the book!

  23. Mole paws! Ah, I don't think I've ever heard of mole paws in American gardens. What lovely poetry. You come across such special books and so nicely share them with us, willow. I wish I read more these days instead of less. I don't know what I do with my time. I have dozens of books I need to read and I have this terrible sense that my time is running out.

    My Poetry book is available at
    Life's Journey (Volume 1)
    May 20, 2010

  24. You always pass on the most delightful discoveries. Thanks.

  25. Marvelous Daaaaling... you know me and greenhouses! My African violets and Boston ferns are absolutely doing beautifully and bring a sense of joy!
    :) The Bach

  26. What a lovely poem! Thank you. Now I shall try to find more of his work.

  27. I can't wait to read more of his work now, thank you for this.
    As someone who worked in a greenhouse, I could so feel this . And the photo is fabulous.

    My husband is Italian, btw, and I of course learned to understand as much of his family's dialect when we were younger, but I'm still such a chicken when it comes to trying to speak it.

  28. Grazie mille, carissima,
    that was a splendid surprise today!
    I always look forward to a new post of yours,
    you find so many treasures!
    I really warms my heart to see that you like Montale just as much as I imagined you would.

    One of the great joys of blogging is that we can enrich each others worlds - even when it is something we know and love already is it a pleasure to be re-introduced in the most unexpected moments. You do a little digging for me, I do it for you, I think there is something to it and blogging.

    I shall read both the original and the translation tonight, when I have time to reflect and see if the imagery is the same (Italian and English both feel like mother tongues to me).

  29. P.S.:
    I also wanted to say that I really appreciate your kindness in mentioning me.

  30. I notice from Wiki he was born in my favourite Italian city,Genoa.
    Thank You Willow.He's new to me.'Looks +Sounds good!

  31. Wow. Beautiful poem, thanks for sharing. Your blog is looking so nice, too!

  32. Merisi, I feel exactly the same about the wonderful world of blogging. Most likely, I would never have enjoyed Montale to this extent if it hadn't been for your lovely blog. Thank you! xx

  33. Elizabeth, I Limoni is on page two of my little book. It's a wonderful poem!

  34. Lovely, even in translation. I admire the translators that do the work of translating poetry. It must be tough work! (Hard enough to translate prose in a way that doesn't sound heavy and dull - I can't imagine having to translate poetry - it's a real art).

  35. That is a beautiful poem--Charles Wright's translation. Wright translated lots of Montale; I had the great good fortune to study under Charles when I took my MFA at the University of Virginia in the 80s.

  36. WOW! Willow, I must stay with your posts because I am loving to learn--or is it: Learning to Love?

    Either way, I love your descriptions e.g., "...rosary of cautious water drops."

    AND, I once found myself in a greenhouse--not a dream--but harsh (rather soft, that is! grin!) reality

    Thank you for putting these treasures here...

  37. All the senses are nurtured by the words in the poem. Very nice. So glad you shared it with us in your blog.

  38. "I was drenched with you"

    "and over the lemons"

    Thanks for the introduction.
    Beautiful post Willow.

  39. You have a spectacular blog.

    Thank you.

    I'm so glad I found you linked at One Wild Oat!

    May I blogroll you?


  40. I had to read it twice to absorb the imagery and sensations. I just read it a third time to my husband and I feel a slight breathlessness...or is it increased heartbeat?

  41. As I now have a greenhouse, I love this poem even more--

  42. Simply gorgeous poetry. Soothing
    and romantic.

  43. Willow/Tess, at first I thought you had written this poem!! Could have been, because you are such an amazing poet.

    But then I read on...

    Thank you for the constant flow of inspiration, and for introducing me to this fine poem!


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