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Last Voyage: Poems of Giovanni Pascoli (Red Hen Press, 2010)



And the night-blooming flowers open,
open in the same hour I remember those I love.
In the middle of the viburnums
the twilight butterflies have appeared.

After a while all noise will quiet.
There, only a house is whispering.
Nests sleep under wings,
like eyes under eyelashes.

Open goblets exhale
the perfume of strawberries.
A light shines there in the room,
grass sprouts over the graves.

A late bee buzzes at the hive
finding all the cells taken.
The Hen runs through the sky’s blue
yard to the chirping of stars.

The whole night exhales
a scent that disappears in the wind.
A light ascends the stairs;
it shines on the second floor: goes out.

And then dawn: the petals close
a little crumpled. Something soft
and secret is brooding in an urn,
some new happiness I can’t understand yet.


The swan sings. From deep in the marshes,
its voice chimes sharp and clear
like the striking of copper cymbals.

This is the endless polar darkness.
Great mountains of eternal frost
lean against the ice plates of the ocean.

The swan sings; and slowly the sky
fades into the darkness and tints itself yellow.
A green light rises from star to star.

The swan’s metal voice rings like a harp
caressed here and there; already the green
northern lights glaze the icy mountain peaks.

And in the deepening night,
an immense iridescent arc grows
into huge ladders that spread open the aurora.

The green and vermillion glow catches fire,
shoots rays, pulsates, subsides, rises again,
exploding, all in utter silence.

With a sound like the bell’s final
angelus chime, the swan shakes its wings:
the wings open, and lift, enormous,
pure white, into the boreal night.


The jeweled air: the clear sun:
you look for the flowering apricot tree,
and smell the bitter scent of hawthorn
in your heart.

But the thorn has dried out, and skeletal plants
weave black threads into the clear blue sky,
into the empty vault of heaven, and the hollow earth
rings with every footstep.

Silence, all around: from far away you hear
only the gusting of the wind, and from the orchards
and gardens, the fragile descent of leaves. It is
the cold summer of the dead.