the first night of curfew

TO EUGENIO SCALFARI – ROME

[San Remo, 12-13 September 1943]

WINDY EVENING

Windy evening. I roam through the rooms
Of my house full of windows.
Outside is the moan and outline of hobby-horses,
Of beaten wings of restless palms.
The rush of air moves through the leaves
And the walls. Does the house sit firm on its ancient
foundations or rock about on top of its stems
As on obedient pilasters?
Windy evening. I roam through the rooms
Full of mirrors. Sharply delineated images
Silently, never meeting, pursue me.
The chaos of pages closes the open book.
A turn of a handle
Silences the upheaval of music and phrases.
It doesn’t calm me or the world.
The torment that shakes and fans
The leaves and me cannot move them from the trunk.
It groans down at the stump. And the singing of a foreign
anthem goes by in a distant road.
Windy evening. I roam through the rooms
Full of walls, safe from the ceaseless worry
From the death-rattle that stirs
Outside from the throats of trees and houses.
the rising and collapsing of a curtain,
A shutter banging: the wind, the wind!

Written the first night
of the curfew imposed
by the Germans. San Remo
between the 12th and 13th September 1943

[Handwritten; with the addressee.]  To Eugenio Italo

Italo Calvino Letters 1941-1985, introduction by Michael Wood, translated by Martin McLaughlin

letters

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