Poetry corner - Sinisgalli

Poetry corner – Sinisgalli

Leonardo Sinisgalli is a poet and painter of the 20th century. Born in Basilicata in 1908, he moved to Rome to study engineering and mathematics and then to Milan to work as an architect and graphic artist. He died in Rome in 1981. He was a close friend of Giuseppe Ungaretti (a poet) and of Scipione (a painter), and was a member of the Expressionist art movement Scuola Romana. In his early poetry, Sinisgalli focused on themes from ancestral myths, but later adopted a more relaxed style. His language is plain and his voice gentle, as in this poem.

A mio padre

L’uomo che torna solo
a tarda sera dalla vigna
scuote le rape nella vasca
sbuca dal viottolo con la paglia
macchiata di verderame.
L’uomo che porta così fresco
terriccio sulle scarpe, odore
di fresca sera nei vestiti
si ferma a una fonte, parla
con l’ortolano che sradica i finocchi.
E un uomo, un piccolo uomo
ch’io guardo di lontano.
E un punto vivo all’orizzonte.
Forse la sua pupilla
si accende questa sera
accanto alla peschiera
dove si asciuga la fronte.

English translation by Rita Ferrarelli in Sinisgalli’s I saw the Muses.

To my father

The man who comes back
alone from the vineyard
late in the evening
shakes the turnips in the trough
emerges from the narrow path
straw hat spotted with verdigris.
The man who wears such fresh
loam on his shoes, the smell
of cool evening on his clothes,
stops at a fountain,
talks with the gardener
who’s uprooting fennel.
A man, a small man
whom I watch from a distance.
A live point on the horizon.
Maybe tonight
his eyes will kindle
next to the fishpond
where he wipes his forehead.

Yvette Devlin