Salvatore Quasimodo: Agrigentum Road (From Italian)

Agrigentum Road
By Salvatore Quasimodo
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

There a wind remains that I recall afire
within the manes of horses as they slanted
their way across the planes, a chafing wind
that eats at the sandstone, erodes the hearts
of derelict caryatids cast down
Onto the grass.
Soul of antiquity
Gone gray with age and rage, turn back and lean
into that wind, breathe of the delicate moss
clothing those giants tumbled out of heaven.
How lonely what is left to you must be!
And worse: to break your heart to hear once more
that sound resound and dwindle
out to sea
where Hesperus already streaks the dawn:
a sad jew's-harp reverberating through
the throat of that lone cartman as he slowly
ascends his moon-cleansed hill again through dark
murmurings of the Moorish olive trees.

Audio of me reading the original Italian:

The Original:

Strada di Agrigento

Là dura un vento che ricordo acceso
nelle criniere dei cavalli obliqui
in corsa lungo le pianure, vento
che macchia e rode l'arenaria e il cuore
dei telamoni lugubri, riversi
sopra l'erba. Anima antica, grigia
di rancori, torni a quel vento, annusi
il delicato muschio che riveste
i giganti sospinti giù dal cielo.
Come sola nello spazio che ti resta!
E più t'accori s'odi ancora il suono
che s'allontana verso il mare
dove Espero già striscia mattutino
il marranzano tristemente vibra
nella gola del carraio che risale
il colle nitido di luna, lento
tra il murmure d' ulivi saraceni.


  1. I'm italian and I must say I appreciate your translation. Only, the last part (from "How lonely what is left to you must be!") can't really convince me. But I suppose that's because in italian, Quasimodo used a wonderful alliteration of "s" which you couldn't reproduce.
    BTW, your blog is fascinating :)

  2. Why, thank you.

    Let me see what I can do about the "s" sounds.

  3. carolyn WittenbergAugust 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    I found this site while browsing for info on Sicily as I plan a visit there.This poetry is beautiful and now that I have happily dicovered the author will look into more of his work. A real treasure

  4. I dont know about the s but your translation is superb

  5. This
    poem, like all on your blog is gorgeous! I found some interesting imagery in an
    obscure sense, 

    "Soul of antiquity
    Gone gray with age and rage..."

    want to get a similar style for a poem I'm currently working on. I was
    wondering if the original italian had some hidden insights into that phrase
    that didn't quite translate? Any comment?

  6. thanks for the translation! 
    one small correction:
    "the throat of that loan cartman"...did you mean "lone"?