The Sunflower – Eugenio Montale

The Sunflower

Bring me the sunflower here and let me set it
in the parched briny soil of my own place
to turn all day to the heavens that reflect it
the broad gaze of its yellow yearning face.

Things of the dark aspire to all that’s bright,
their forms dissolving into a cascade
of tints merging in music. Simply to fade
from view is the great adventure, lost in light.

Bring me the plant that points us to the height
where there’s a clearness tinged with the sun’s rays
and life itself is thinning to a haze.
Bring me that flower delirious with light.
– Eugenio Montale (1896-1981)
Translated by Patricia Hann

* * *
Rather, Montale explained in his widely-quoted essay, “Intentions (Imaginary Interview),” “I wanted my words to come closer than those of the other poets I’d read. Closer to what? I seemed to be living under a bell jar, and yet I felt I was close to something essential. A subtle veil, a thread, barely separated me from the definitive quid. Absolute expression would have meant breaking that veil, that thread: an explosion, the end of the illusion of the world as representation. But this remained an unreachable goal. And my wish to come close remained musical, instinctive, unprogrammatic. I wanted to wring the neck of the eloquence of our old aulic language, even at the risk of a counter-eloquence.”
(Source : Poetry Foundation)

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