“Solitude” by Antonia Pozzi

Antonia Pozzi


for A.M.C.

I have aching arms weakened
by an insipid desire to seize
something alive, that feels
smaller than me. I’d like to seize
my burden in one bound and carry it,
running, when it’s evening;
fling myself in the dark to defend it,
as the sea throws itself on the rocks;
to fight for him, as long as there remained in me
a shiver of life; then to fall
in the dead of the night on the road
under a swollen sky silvered
with moonlight and of birch; to curl myself
on that life that I hug to my chest—
and send it to sleep—and I sleep too, at last …
No: I’m alone. Alone I curl up
above my thin body. I don’t notice
that instead of a numb forehead
I am kissing like a madwoman
the tight skin of my knee.

Milan, 4 June 1929


translated from the Italian by Amy Newman

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019


Amy Newman: “When I translate the poetry of Antonia Pozzi, I feel like I am an archeologist discovering remains, or a paleontologist, excavating the words as if brushing the Earth from the bones of a dinosaur, and assembling them in their lines again, so each articulation is sure. My hope is that the reader brings it all to life: the skeleton’s organs and blood and flesh appear, and the dinosaur begins to move.” (web)


Antonia Pozzi, born in Milan in 1912, lived a brief life, dying by suicide in 1938. She left among her papers diaries, notebooks, and over 300 poems; none of her poetry was published during her lifetime. In her biographical materials and diaries, one intuits an essential early 20th century female experience: while Pozzi expresses her desire to be an obedient daughter and a mother someday, she is also independent in bearing, uninterested in the domestic tasks associated with love and marriage. Such conflict leads her to consider herself mentally ill, and she views poetry as an ideal for which the real life does not allow. Pozzi’s poetry was posthumously altered by her father and published in private edition in 1939. He removed mentions of her lover, as well as references to suicide and the impurity of the soul. In 1989, editors Alessandra Cenni and Onorina Dino restored the poems to their original form in Parole (the most recently revised edition of which is Tutte le opera, 2009). The copyright of this poem belongs to the International Insubric Center, Carlo Cattaneo, and Giulio Preti, for the Philosophy, the Epistestemologia, the Cognitive Sciences and the History of the Science and Techniques of the University of the Studies of Insubria, depositary and owner of the whole Archive and Library of Antonia Pozzi.

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