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I climbed down, with you by my arm, at least a million stairs

Here’s a beautiful poem by Eugenio Montale:

I climbed down, with you by my arm, at least a million stairs
and now you’re not here, it’s emptiness at each step.
Even thus, our long journey has been short.
Mine still lasts, yet I no longer need
coincidences, reservations,
traps, the chagrin of those who believe
that reality is just what they see.

I climbed down million stairs with you by my arm
not quite because with four eyes perhaps we can see more.
With you I climbed down ‘cause I knew between us two
the only true pupils, albeit so much dimmed,
were yours.

I think this poem is all the more beautiful when you know he wrote it for his wife, whom he affectionately nicknamed “Fly” due to her near-sightedness.

What’s this post about?

I was asked about my favourite poem. But I don’t have one. I mean, only one.

I have troubles ranking what can’t be objectively ranked, and I don’t even like it because I feel there’s really no need to. I mean, it’s highly situational.

So I asked back what if I had more than one. I’ve been answered, and I quote: “Try to choose that one giving you more emotion😊️”.

Ok, some guidance, that’s great. For some reasons, this poem sprang to my mind (as apparently I can’t read it without crying). I decided to go with my gut.

When I searched for an English translation, to my surprise nothing remotely passable showed up. Not to say it’s not there, maybe I just wasn’t able find it.

I didn’t even look that hard, as I knew I would end up translating it myself. Partly ‘cause I’m picky, but mostly because I’m also a poet (surprise surprise).

Since poetry can’t be translated (I mean, nothing really can, but poetry even less so), I might as well make my own version and pour my soul into these words.

This post actually belongs to a website I haven’t created yet. But now that it’s done, I thought I’d share it here as a gift for the world.

I hope you don’t mind. Although it’s not quite simple. And it’s not your song. Or poem. Or post. Ok, since you’ve made it so far, this can be your post! ❤️

P.S. I’m still not a native. If you spot any mistakes, please let me know!

P.P.S. If you enjoyed this translation, if you found it useful, if you’d like to encourage me to create that other website – please also let me know.

Italian version

Before bringing the curtain down, here’s some more poetry for you:

Ho sceso, dandoti il braccio, almeno un milione di scale
e ora che non ci sei è il vuoto ad ogni gradino.
Anche così è stato breve il nostro lungo viaggio.
Il mio dura tuttora, né più mi occorrono
le coincidenze, le prenotazioni,
le trappole, gli scorni di chi crede
che la realtà sia quella che si vede.

Ho sceso milioni di scale dandoti il braccio
non già perché con quattr’occhi forse si vede di più.
Con te le ho scese perché sapevo che di noi due
le sole vere pupille, sebbene tanto offuscate,
erano le tue.