Saturday, April 27, 2013

La Scrittura Invincibile

I was reading from my High School Italian Literature book (of course, I got it  from an Italian High School student, not from my High School), and it is titled based on a Bertold Brecht poem. I found the poem (great website, huh!). It is set in an Italian prison, so it is fitting as an Italian lit. title. It is also about the power of writing, and delightfully so. So, in honor of National Poetry Month, I give you the above link and my edited Google translation from the Italian:

The Invincible Inscription--Bertold Brecht, 1934
At the time of the World War
in a cell in the Italian prison of San Carlo
filled with arrested soldiers, drunks and thieves,
a socialist soldier engraved on the wall with indelible pencil:

High, near the top, in the semi-darkened cell, barely visible, but
written in enormous capital letters.
When the guards saw him, they sent a painter with a bucket of lime
and he, with a long brush, whitewashed the threatening writing.
But since, with the lime, he had just followed the characters
Now it said in the cell, in white:

Only a second painter covered the whole with wider brush
so that for some hours nothing could be seen. But in the morning,
when the lime was dry, the inscription reappeared:

Then the guards sent against writing a mason with a knife.
And he scraped one letter after another, for a good hour.
And when he had finished, there was in the cell, now without color
but deeply engraved in the wall, the invincible words:

Now lift up your wall! Said the soldier.
I hope you found as much enjoyment in this as I did. I don't have a poem to complement this one, so I'll have to post one of mine another day.

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