Size / / /

Translated from Italian by André Naffis-Sahely

The lonely man wakes while the sea is still dark
and the stars waver. A warmish breeze
rises from the shore, where the seabed lies,
to sweeten one's breath. This is the hour when nothing
can happen. Even the pipe between his teeth
hangs unlit. Nocturnal is the water's subdued swash.
The lonely man has already lit a bonfire of branches
and watches it redden the landscape. Even the sea
will soon resemble the fire and its blazing shine.

There's nothing more bitter than the dawn of a day
when nothing will happen. Nothing more bitter
than pointlessness. A greenish star hangs
exhausted in the sky, taken aback by the dawn.
It watches the still-dark sea and the blotch of fire
where the man keeps warm, if only to stay busy;
it watches and falls sleep-heavy between murky mountains
where a bed of snow awaits it. The slowness of this hour
is ruthless to those who no longer expect anything.

Is there a point to the sun rising from the sea
and for the long day to begin? Tomorrow,
the warmish dawn will return with its silky light,
it'll be like yesterday and nothing will happen.
The lonely man would like only to sleep.
When the last star goes dead in the sky,
the man carefully fills his pipe, and lights it.

A member of the Italian Communist Party, Cesare Pavese was a leading author in 20th Century Italy. Born in Cuneo, Cesare passed away in Turin at the age of 41, in 1950; where he had attended university, and completed a thesis on Walt Whitman.