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Una Luce - by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pier Paolo Pasolini was born in Bologna on March 5, 1922. A poet, journalist, film director, screenwriter, actor, novelist and essayist, in the years since his tragic death in 1975 Pasolini has come to be valued as a visionary thinker and a major figure in Italian literature and art.




Literary critic Harold Bloom considered him a major European poet and a great 20th-century voice. A careful observer of the transformation of society after the war until the mid- 1970s, he often aroused strong controversy and heated debates for the radicality of his judgments with regard to the habits of the middle class and rising consumer society.

His family life was marked by the tragical killing of his younger brother during WW2, followed by the death of his father. Until his own tragical death at 53, Pasolini spent his life with his mother, who survived him, dying 6 years later in 1981.

He began his career as a teacher, then in 1954 he left teaching and settled in Monteverde Vecchio, publishing his first major volume of dialect poems, "La meglio gioventù" (The Best Youth), and in 1955 the novel Ragazzi di vita (=hustlers), which was a great success both with the critics and the readers.

Cinema

In 1957 he collaborates in Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria", writing the dialogues spoken in the Roman dialect. In 1961 he made his first film as a director and scriptwriter, "Accattone" (=Tramp), in 1964 he directed "Il Vangelo secondo Matteo" (=The Gospel According to St. Matthew) in 1965 "Uccellacci e Uccellini" (=Hawks and Sparrows) in 1967 "Edipo re", in 1968 "Teorema", then from 1970 to 1974 his trilogy "Il Decameron", "I racconti di Canterbury" (=The Canterbury Tales) and "Il fiore delle mille e una notte" (=The Flower of the Arabian Nights) to end with his last "Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma" (=Salò, or the 120 days of Sodom) in 1975.

The 1970s

The cinema led him to undertake several trips abroad: India, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Guinea, Israel and Jordan. In 1966 he made his first trip to the U.S., and was greatly impressed by New York. Meanwhile, his political commitment led him in 1972 to collaborate with the youth of Lotta Continua, and in 1973 he began to write articles in the "Corriere della Sera", with harsh criticism of the Italian politics and social climate.

On the morning of 2 November 1975, on the Roman coast at Ostia, his body was found, run over several times with his own car. A young man caught driving Pasolini sports car confessed to the murder and was later convicted. During the process, however, disturbing aspects, still unresolved today, came to light, and Pasolini's murder remains a mystery in a dark moment of Italian history.

He was buried in Casarsa della Delizia, his mother's village in Friuli, where she also was to be buried, years later, a resting place of the whole family: the father Carlo Alberto Pasolini, who died in Rome in 1958, after a period of painful loneliness and alcoholism, and the poet's brother Guidalberto, killed in February 1945 by Slovenian partisans.

Tomb of Pier Paolo Pasolini

The poem "Una Luce" (A Light)

This poem, dedicated to a mother figure, is full of tender images, with this mother who's getting old and does not want to disturb, almost a child for the poet, who expresses in wonderful words his love for this woman who has suffered so much, and that day by day he sees getting weaker. And, almost a premonition, the poet wishes for her, and himself, a resting place together, in the fresh meadows where her other young son was buried.
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È una povera donna, mite, fine,
che non ha quasi coraggio di essere,
e se ne sta nell'ombra, come una bambina,
She's a poor woman, meek, delicate,
that has almost no courage to exist,
and stays in the shadows, like a little girl,
 
coi suoi radi capelli, le sue vesti dimesse,
ormai, e quasi povere, su quei sopravvissuti
segreti che sanno, ancora, di violette;
with her thinning hair, her clothes humble,
now, and almost poor, on those surviving
secrets that smell, still, of violets;
 
con la sua forza, adoperata nei muti
affanni di chi teme di non essere pari
al dovere, e non si lamenta dei mai avuti
with her force, used in speechless
anxieties of one who fears not to be up
to duty, and does not complain about never had
 
compensi: una povera donna che sa amare
soltanto, eroicamente, ed essere madre
è stato per lei tutto ciò che si può dare.
compensations: a poor woman who knows how to love
only, heroically, and being a mother
was for her all that one can give.
 
La casa è piena delle sue magre
membra di bambina, della sua fatica:
anche a notte, nel sonno, asciutte lacrime
The house is full of her lean
limbs like a little girl, of her labor:
even at night, in sleep, dry tears
 
coprono ogni cosa: e una pietà così antica,
così tremenda mi stringe il cuore,
rincasando, che urlerei, mi toglierei la vita.
cover everything: and a pity so ancient,
so tremendous grips my heart,
coming home, that I'd scream, I'd take my life.
 
Tutto intorno ferocemente muore,
mentre non muore il bene che è in lei,
e non sa quanto il suo umile amore,
Everything around fiercely dies,
while does not die the good that is in her,
and she does not know how much her humble love,
 
poveri, dolci ossicini miei
possano nel confronto quasi farmi morire
di dolore e vergogna, quanto quei
my poor, sweet, small bones
might in comparison almost kill me
of pain and shame, how much those
 
suoi gesti angustiati, quei suoi sospiri
nel silenzio della nostra cucina,
possano farmi apparire impuro e vile...
distressed gestures of hers, those sighs of hers
in the silence of our kitchen,
can make me look unclean and vile...
 
In ogni ora, tutto è ormai, per lei, bambina,
per me, suo figlio, e da sempre, finito:
non resta che sperare che la fine
In every hour, everything is now, for her, a child,
for me, her son, and forever, over:
we can only hope that the end
 
venga davvero a spegnere l'accanito
dolore di aspettarla. Saremo insieme,
presto, in quel povero prato gremito
is really coming to quench the relentless
pain of waiting for it. We will be together,
soon, in that poor lawn packed
 
di pietre grigie, dove fresco il seme
dell'esistenza dà ogni anno erbe e fiori:
nient'altro ormai che la campagna preme
of gray stones, where the fresh seed
of existence gives every year grass and flowers:
nothing more now but the fields press
 
ai suoi confini di muretti, tra i voli
delle allodole, a giorno, e a notte,
il canto disperato degli usignoli.
her boundaries of walls, among flights
of larks, by day, and by night,
the desperate song of nightingales.
 
Farfalle e insetti ce n'è a frotte,
fino al tardo settembre, la stagione
in cui torniamo, lì dove le ossa
Butterflies and insects are there in swarms,
until late September, the season
when we come back, there where the bones
 
dell' altro figlio tiene la passione
ancora vive nel gelo della pace:
vi arriva, ogni pomeriggio, depone
of her other son by passion are kept
still alive in the chill of peace:
she goes there every afternoon, lays
 
i suoi fiori, in ordine, mentre tutto tace
intorno, e si sente solo il suo affanno,
pulisce la pietra, dove, ansioso, lui giace,
her flowers, in order, while all is quiet
around, and only is heard her breathing,
she cleans the stone, where, anxious, he lies,
 
poi si allontana, e nel silenzio che hanno
subito ritrovato intorno muri e solchi,
si sentono i tonfi della pompa che tremando
then goes away, and in the silence that
have again found the walls and furrows around,
the thuds can be heard of the pump that trembling
 
lei spinge con le sue poche forze,
volenterosa, decisa a fare ciò che è bene;
e torna, attraversando le aiuole folte
she pushes with her little strength,
willingly, determined to do what is good;
and comes back, crossing the flowerbeds
 
di nuova erbetta, con quei suoi vasi pieni
d'acqua per quei fiori... Presto
anche noi, o dolce superstite, saremo
thick with new grass, with those pots of hers filled
with water for those flowers... Soon
we, too, o sweet survivor, shall be
 
perduti in fondo a questo fresco
pezzo di terra; ma non sarà una quiete
la nostra, ché si mescola in essa
lost at the bottom of this fresh
piece of land, but it will not be quietness,
ours, because in it is mixed
 
troppo una vita che non ha avuto meta,
Avremo un silenzio stento e povero,
un sonno doloroso, che non reca
too much of a life that had no goal,
We will have a difficult and poor silence,
a painful sleep, which does not bear
 
dolcezza e pace, ma nostalgia e rimprovero,
la tristezza di chi è morto senza vita:
se qualcosa di puro, e sempre giovane,
sweetness and peace, but nostalgia and reproach,
the sadness of those who died without living:
if something pure, and forever young,
 
vi resterà, sarà il tuo mondo mite,
la tua fiducia, il tuo eroismo:
nella dolcezza del gelso e della vite
will remain, that will be your mild world,
your trust, your heroism:
in the sweetness of the mulberry tree and vine
 
o del sambuco, in ogni alto o misero
segno di vita, in ogni primavera, sarai
tu; in ogni luogo dove un giorno risero,
or the elder, in any high or low
sign of life, in every spring, you will be
there; wherever once they laughed,
 
e di nuovo ridono, impuri, i vivi, tu darai
la purezza, l'unico giudizio che ci avanza,
and laugh again, the impure, the living, you will give
purity, the only judgment that is left to us,
 
ed è tremendo, e dolce: che non c'è mai
disperazione senza un po' di speranza.
and it is terrible and sweet: that there is never
despair without some hope.