“And then we cowards”

By Cesare Pavese 1908–1950 Cesare Pavese

Translated By Geoffrey Brock

And then we cowards
who loved the whispering
evening, the houses,
the paths by the river,
the dirty red lights
of those places, the sweet
soundless sorrow—
we reached our hands out
toward the living chain
in silence, but our heart
startled us with blood,
and no more sweetness then,
no more losing ourselves
on the path by the river—
no longer slaves, we knew
we were alone and alive.

“‘And then we cowards’” from Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950 by Cesare Pavese. Published in 2002 by Copper Canyon Press. Used by permission Copper Canyon Press.

Source: Dissaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950 (Copper Canyon Press, 2002)

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Poet Cesare Pavese 1908–1950

POET’S REGION Italy

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Cesare Pavese is widely regarded as one of the foremost men of letters in twentieth-century Italian cultural history, and in particular as an emblematic figure: an earnest writer maimed by fascism and struggling with the modern existentialist dilemma of alienated meaning. Little known in the United States, Pavese was profoundly influenced by American literature, and, when official censorship closed his mouth, he would use his . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION Italy

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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