Enemy Of Death

(For Rossana Sironi)

You should not have
ripped out your image
taken from us, from the world,
a portion of beauty.
What can we do
we enemies of death,
bent to your feet of rose,
your breast of violet?
Not a word, not a scrap
of your last day, a No
to earth’s things, a No
to our dull human record.
The sad moon in summer,
the dragging anchor, took
your dreams, hills, trees,
light, waters, darkness,
not dim thoughts but truths,
severed from the mind
that suddenly decided,
time and all future evil.
Now you are shut
behind heavy doors
enemy of death.


Who cries?
You have blown out beauty
with a breath, torn her,
dealt her the death-wound,
without a tear
for her insensate shadow’s
spreading over us.
Destroyed solitude,
and beauty, failed.
You have signalled
into the dark,
inscribed your name in air,
your No
to everything that crowds here
and beyond the wind.
I know what you were
looking for in your new dress.
I understand the unanswered question.
Neither for you nor us, a reply.
Oh, flowers and moss,
Oh, enemy of death.

by Salvatore Quasimodo

Comments (2)

Italian original text 'Nemica della morte' a Rossana Sironi Tu non dovevi, o cara, strappare la tua immagine dal mondo, toglierci una misura di bellezza. Nemici della morte, che faremo chini ai tuoi piedi rosa, sul tuo costato viola? Non hai lasciato foglia né parola dell'ultimo tuo giorno o un no a ogni cosa apparsa sulla terra, un no al monotono diario degli uomini. La triste, estiva àncora di luna trascinò via i tuoi sogni: colline alberi luce, notte acque; non confusi pensieri, sogni veri staccati dalla mente che decise improvvisa per te il tempo, la viltà futura. Ora sei dietro dure porte, nemica della morte. - Chi urla, chi urla? - Tu hai ucciso in un soffio la bellezza l'hai colpita per sempre, l'hai straziata senza un lamento per la sua folle ombra che stende su noi. Non bastavi, bellezza, solitudine disfatta. Hai svolto un gesto nel buio, hai scritto il tuo nome nell'aria o quel no a tutto ciò che brulica qui e di là dal vento. So che volevi nella veste nuova, so la domanda che ritorna vuota. Non c'è per noi, non c'è per te risposta, o muschio e fiori, o cara nemica della morte.
''Enemy of Death'' For Rossana Sironi Dear one, you should not have ripped out your image, taken from us, from the world, a portion of beauty. What can we do we enemies of death, bent to your feet of rose, your breast of violet? Not a word, not a scrap of your last day, a No to earth’s things, a No to our dull human record. The sad moon in summer, the dragging anchor, took your dreams, hills, trees, light, waters, darkness, not dim thoughts but truths, severed from the mind that suddenly decided, time and all future evil. Now you are shut behind heavy doors enemy of death. Who cries? You have blown out beauty with a breath, torn her, dealt her the death-wound, without a tear for her insensate shadow’s spreading over us. Destroyed solitude, and beauty, failed. You have signalled into the dark, inscribed your name in air, your No to everything that crowds here and beyond the wind. I know what you were looking for in your new dress. I understand the unanswered question. Neither for you nor us, a reply. Oh, flowers and moss, Oh, enemy of death.