Poems by Antonia Pozzi


If a word of mine
pleases you
and you tell me
even just with your eyes
I open wide
in a joyful smile –
but I tremble
like a young mother
who even blushes when
a passerby tells her
her little boy is handsome.

1 February 1933


Words – glass
that unfaithfully
reflects my sky –

I thought of you
after sunset
in a darkened street
when a pane fell to the stones
and its fragments at length
spread shattered light –

26 September 1933

The Flowers

Is there no one,
no one selling
along this unlucky street?

And this dark sea,
this gloomy sky,
this hostile wind –
oh, yesterday’s camellias,
camellias white and red, smiling
in the golden cloister –
a spring mirage!

Who’ll sell me a flower today?
I have so many in my heart:
but all clasped
in heavy bunches –
trampled –
done in.
I have so many that my soul
suffocates and nearly dies
under their vast unshared
But at the bottom of the dark sea
is the heart’s key –
at the bottom of the dark heart
until evening
my useless harvest
will lie
imprisoned –

O who will sell me
a flower – a different flower,
born outside of me,
in a true garden,
that I might offer the one who awaits?

Is there no one,
no one who will sell me
along this unhappy path?

14 February 1933

A Longing for Light Things

Frail blonde reeds
like a field of wheat
beside the sky-blue lake

the houses of a distant island
the color of sails
ready to set off –

A longing for light things
in the heart as heavy
as a stone
inside a boat –

Yet one evening it will reach
these shores,
the unfettered soul:
without folding down the reeds
without stirring up water or air
it will set sail – with the houses
of the distant island,
for a high reef
of stars –

1 February 1934


To have two long wings
of shadow
and fold them up against your pain;
to be shadow, the peace
of evening
around your faded

May 1934

Scent of Green

Scent of green –
my lost childhood –
when I felt so proud
of my scuffed knees –
idly I pulled up
flowers, the grass alongside trails,
and threw it all aside –
it took up my hands –

scent of woods in August – at noon –
when, faces burning, we tore
through cobwebs –
fording streams, the stone skips
the foot plunges in
ice penetrates straight to the pulse –
the sun, the sun
on my bare neck –
light that bleaches your hair blonde –

scent of earth,
my lost childhood.

Pasturo, August 1934


Antonia Pozzi

Antonia Pozzi's poems were most recently published in the volumes Parole (Garzanti, 1998) and Poesia che mi guardi (Luca Sossella, 2010), and a collection of prose was published as Diari (Scheiwiller, 1988). Breath: Poems and Letters, a selection of Pozzi's work translated into English by Lawrence Venuti, was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2002; another selection was recently published in English translation by Peter Robinson (Antonia Pozzi, Poems. Oneworld Classics, 2011).

Nicholas Benson

Nicholas Benson has been published in Prairie Schooner, New England Review, and other journals. His translation of Attilio Bertolucci's Winter Journey (Viaggio d'inverno, 1971) was published in 2005 by Free Verse Editions of Parlor Press, and his translation of Aldo Palazzeschi's The Arsonist (L'incendiario, 1911) was supported by a 2008 NEA Translation Fellowship.

English translation copyright (c) Nicholas Benson, 2012.