Eugenio Montale: Threshold (From Italian)

By Eugenio Montale
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Italian

Rejoice, if orchard-filling wind should carry
Again the tidal rush of life to you:
Here where a dead tangle
Of memories falls through,
There was no garden but a reliquary.

That surge you hear, it is not wings that whir.
It is the stir of the eternal womb.
See how this solitary strip of earth
Turns from a tract into a crucible.

The wall is steep. Beyond it there is wrath.
Perhaps if you proceed, you

Will come upon the specter that redeems you.
Here stories come together, every deed
Negated by the endgames of hereafter.

Look for a flaw rotted in the net that fetters
You now. Break free! Jump out and burst
Forth! I prayed for this for you. The thirst
Will now go easier, the rust less bitter.

The Original:

In Limine

Godi se il vento ch’entra nel pomario
vi rimena l’ondata della vita:
qui dove affonda un morto
viluppo di memorie
orto non era, ma reliquiario.

Il frullo che tu senti non è un volo
ma il commuoversi dell’eterno grembo;
vedi che si trasforma questo lembo
di terra solitario in un crogiuolo.

Un rovello è di qua dall’erto muro.
Se procedi t’imbatti
tu forse nel fantasma che ti salva:
si compongono qui le storie, gli atti
scancellati pel giuoco del futuro.

Cerca una maglia rotta nella rete
che ci stringe, tu balza fuori, fuggi!
Va, per te l’ho pregato,- ora la sete
ma sarà lieve, meno acre la ruggine...


  1. This is actually an improvement on the Galassi. I'm not sure about 'flaw's rot' though--maybe something like 'Seek a rotten flaw...'? 'Flaw's rot' is correct as translated but sounds weak. Still, very good work.

  2. Be glad if the wind that blows through the orchardbrings back the surging of life:here where a dead coil
    of memories sinks,there was no garden, but reliquary.The throbbing you hear is not of flightbut tremor in the eternal womb;
    see how this solitary edge of landturns into into a crucible.Rage is on the wall´s either sideIf you go on, you will come...,
    —you perhaps— upon the phantom that saves:
    here the stories are composed, the acts
    that the game of the future obliterates

    Look for a broken mesh in the net
    that holds us down, leap out and flee!
    Go.., I implore you—now my thirstwill be mild; less biting, the rust. . .


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