DR (1949 / Los Angeles, California)

The Twilight Of Cesare Pavese (Elegy)

Pavese lost
to a Hollywood starlet,
and to the girl in the myth
who came from the waves—
casually he met her
as with an actress
at a party in some canyon house—
in the hills of his birth
he met her, 'a brighter presence
in the unsteady starlight.'

Pavese lost,
blocked within
his impenetrable boundary—
he wrote: 'she stands
on the ground of everything I love
and I cannot understand her.'

When the poets were seeking
an Hermetic refinement, a detached
silence—Pavese

lost to the pleasures and afflictions
of whores, factory workers,
farm-workers—all those
betrayed by the banks,
by the brokers of the Church,
and the multinational gangs.
They locked him up for naming
that treachery. And Pound—arrested
for viciously mistaking
one system of debasement
for another....But I was
talking about an actress
and treachery, about whores
and peasants—the defiled
sunlight that falls
on their clothes
and the sour
bread that they eat.
I was thinking of Pavese's face
full of weariness and anger,
and the peach and the grape ruined
by two seasons of cutting rain.
I was talking about treachery
and a movie actress—and Pavese
alone, cut-off on the ground
where he stood when he dreamed
or when he desired a woman,
on the ground beaten
by harsh weather,
the ground of ruined wheatfields
that never made the heavy circle
of gold waves join.

Pavese lost
to a Hollywood starlet,
or was it only
to the one he met
in the hills of his birth,
the one who spoke
'in a voice more pure...
a voice of vanished seasons...'

One night, in a rented hotel room
Pavese got up and went
beneath those hills—
it was too bitter
to hear that voice again
when the woman was gone for good,
when there was no other woman,
no sheets to fold,
no plates to bring from the table
—and the war over, the desires
of the Resistance destroyed,
the twilight settling...no carpenters
or farm workers arguing, or playing
their instruments
in the bar below his room.

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