Image Tensed

By Clemente Rèbora Clemente Rèbora

Translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock Read the translator's notes

Image tensed,
I eye the instant,
Anticipation welling—
And I expect no one;
In the lit shadows
I watch as the doorbell
Sheds its inaudible
Pollen of sound—
And I expect no one;
Within four walls
Astounded more by space
Than any desert place,
I expect no one;
But come he will,
He must, if I hold on
To bloom unseen;
He’ll suddenly appear
When I am least aware:
Coming as if to forgive
All he gives to death,
Coming to assure me
Of his reward and mine,
Coming as anodyne
For my pain, for his—
Perhaps his whisper is
Already on its way.

Source: Poetry (December 2010).


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

December 2010
 Clemente  Rèbora


Clemente Rèbora (1885–1957) was a child of the Risorgimento; his father fought alongside Garibaldi and raised him according to secular, Mazzinian ideals. But a few years after publishing his second volume of verse, Canti anonimi (Anonymous songs, 1922), of which “Image Tensed” is the final poem, he converted to Catholicism, even- tually becoming a Rosminian priest.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Religion, Faith & Doubt, Love, Desire

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