Little Diary of Getting Old: VIII

By Carlo Betocchi 1899–1986 Carlo Betocchi

Translated By Geoffrey Brock Read the translator's notes

And then at night, when old,
we start having vague pointless
scraps of dreams that lead us
to this place or that, since even
our failing senses insist on
outings: and lost friends reappear,
sleepwalking through the stupor
of surrendered existence.
But here too there’s something
that’s not unconscious, as when
the boatman stops his old ferry
along the banks of the Arno,
plunges his wooden bailer
into the bottom of the boat,
and dumps that stale water,
gone to grime between the staves,
overboard into the river,
where it flows again,
though the boat is held fast
amid the mud and rushes.

Carlo Betocchi, Tutte le poesie, © Garzanti Editore spa, 1996.

Source: Poetry (March 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2010


Carlo Betocchi led a double life, working for decades as a surveyor and engineer building bridges, roads, and canals, while helping to found the influential literary journal, Il Frontespizio. His Tutte le poesie (Complete poems) appeared in 1984.

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Poems by Carlo Betocchi

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Death, Time & Brevity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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