GreenishLady

Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thursday Poem - To My Friends

The poem I would like to share with you today is one that I found over ten years ago. It struck a chord with me then, and the same chord resonates whenever I read it. Primo Levi was a concentration-camp survivor, scientist and writer. I found him as a poet, but apparently, he is best known for the Periodic Table of The Elements. - Stories connected in to the elements. Wikipedia entry for Levi here. His 1987 death was apparently a suicide, but there are those who do not accept this view.


To My Friends

Dear friends, and here I say friends
In the broad sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates of both sexes,
People seen only once
Or frequented all my life;
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
A line has been stretched,
A well-defined bond.

I speak for you, companions of a crowded
Road, not without its difficulties,
And for you too, who have lost
Soul, courage, the desire to live;
Or no one, or someone, or perhaps only one person, or
you
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When everyone was like a seal.
Each of us bears the imprint
Of a friend met along the way;
In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or in folly
Everyone stamped by everyone.

Now that the time crowds in
And the undertakings are finished,
To all of you the humble wish
That autumn will be long and mild.

16 December 1985

PRIMO LEVI


Does anyone else have a favourite Levi poem? Anyone read any of his prose?


5 Comments:

At 20/4/06 9:16 pm, Blogger eliza said...

oh my. this is so beautiful.

"In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or in folly
Everyone stamped by everyone."

this brought tears of joy. the whole loving thing did, really, but i especially love the broad and inclusive and utterly forgiving perspective, captured here especially. plus i've had some difficulties with some friends lately and this was such a gentle and salutary tonic.

 
At 20/4/06 10:44 pm, Blogger Endment said...

He is new to me but this poem is a treasure- thanks

 
At 21/4/06 3:07 pm, Blogger Kara said...

Seems to speak of being kind to one another - even if we see people only once gentleness, kindness is the imprint to leave with one another. Thanks for sharing this poem.

 
At 22/4/06 2:46 am, Blogger liz elayne said...

again. i am so struck by the poems that you choose. this one stopped me in my tracks and even though I know he means the wax and seal in a different way...the seal image made me think of my husband's favorite movie the secret of roan inish...
anyway, this idea of everyone stamped by everyone...love this.

 
At 16/9/07 2:50 pm, Anonymous Sonam Ling said...

I found this translation of "To my friends' in "The Mirror Maker" by Primo Levi, translated by Raymond Rosenthal,written in October 1986, published in 1989, Schocken Books, New York. I found the few changes relevant. Thank you for posting the poem. Primo Levi is one of my favourite authors.

Sonam

To My Friends,

Dear friends, and here I say friends
In the larger sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates, men and women,
persons seen only once
Or frequented all my life:
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
Was drawn a segment,
A well-defined chord.

I speak for you, companions on a journey
Dense, not void of effort,
And also for you who have lost
The soul, the spirit, the wish to live.
Or nobody or somebody, or perhaps only one, or you
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When each of us was like a seal.
Each of us carries the imprint
Of the friend met along the way;
In each a trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or folly
Each stamped by each.

Now that time presses urgently,
And all the tasks are finished,
To all of you the modest wish
That autumn may be long and mild.

 

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