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A Giuseppe Ungaretti, visto di notte alla televisione leggere "I fiumi"

To Giuseppe Ungaretti,
seen at night on Tv reading"Rivers"

I don't myself have rivers,
I've never lived learning out
with my face over the water
that still or eddying round
carves through the city, ennobbles or in whirls
steals away all its thoughts.
I've not had
flights or wide stone steps on which to lie stretched out
losing under the sunshine
the light of the intellect, dozing off.
I had avenues,
streets broad and full of noise, the high trajectory
of slip-roads,
those open arms of a mother who is poor
veins by which every kind of stuff
comes into town.
I have had avenues of trees
or blasts of vertigo between the steel of walls
and darkened glass.
The confusion
Makes them identical, under the rain
they amount to hell,
But at night, when night
Does fall
they are drawn again,
fresh avenues
of shade and loneliness,
when the drooping necks of lamp-posts
light them up and the switching off
of the last advertisement signs.
They begin to move then, very lightly,
they branch out, perhaps the whole city,
rotates a little;
somebody ends up
face to face with a castle or a
cathedral, others lose their tan
under the orange lamps of a motorway junction -
the avenues at night breathe
with the leaves of plane-trees, broad black fans,
with the grillet of the underground and the lullaby air
that sleeps over children.
They draw breath when
the passenger of the last tram goes -
The avenues give me
a special life
which is not tears and joy,
no, but a windy emptiness,
a sense of going
going on and on
that comes to me from who knows what seas,
what valleys, what great rivers.