Ossi di Seppia

The ice is nearly out at the big pond at the St Olaf Natural Lands when I visit in the afternoon. I look closely for ducks in the dark patches of open water amidst the remnant ice but find none. I walk to the woods at the west end of the pond. The Quaking Aspen do more than tremble and quake in the cold, gale-force winds. Some of the top branches have actually snapped off and lay scattered on the trail.

Over twenty years ago I discovered the work of the Italian poet Eugenio Montale, a poet whose rugged elemental landscapes mixed complexly with human emotions. I especially remember pouring over the volumes translated and annotated by William Arrowsmith, for many many months. Looking at poems from the early collection Ossi di Seppia today, after many years, I recognize more easily the force that so overpowered me when I first encountered them.

Something about today's howling wind and the bare branches of the tree tops whipping together until they sounded like the antlers of battling deer and the cold waves cutting a wedge into the last of the ice on the pond nudges me in the direction of Montale's poems this afternoon. One of the first poems I look at includes a few lines about poplar trees. A few poems later I encounter the Italian transmontane wind, a cold forceful wind gusting out of the north, which is even more apropos of today's weather. The poet reminds us that there are days when it's a blessing to be rooted in place.

"What looks like leaves or birds fly through
the sky dome and are lost.
And you, all shaken by the whips
of the unleashing wingd,
you who clutch to yourself
arms that are swelling with flowers yet unborn,
how hostile are the spirits
that overflow the convulsed earth in swarms,
my tender life, and how beloved are
your roots today."

- Eugenio Montale, from 'North Wind' (trans. by Ned Condini)

Publicado por scottking scottking, 09 de março de 2017, 05:26 AM

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scottking

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Março 8, 2017 03:06 PM CST

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Quaking Aspen, buds and catkins
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota

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