Montale’s Grave

Now that the ticket to eternity
has your name on it, we are here to pay
the awkward tribute post-modernity
allows to those who think they think your way

but hear you only faintly, filtered through
a gauze of echoes, sounding in a voice
that could be counterfeit; and yet the noise
seems to expand our notion of the true.

An ivory forehead, landscape drunk on light,
mother-of-pearl that flashes in the night:
intimations of the miracle
when the null steps forward as the all—

these were signals, sparks that spattered from
the anvil of illusions where you learned
the music of a generation burned
by an old myth: the end that will not come.

There is no other myth. This sun-drenched yard
proves it, freighted with the waiting dead,
where votive plastic hyacinths relay
the promise of one more technicolor day

—the promise that is vouchsafed to you, scribe,
and your dictator, while your names get blurred
with all the others, like your hardest word
dissolving in the language of the tribe.



Jonathan Galassi, “Montale’s Grave” from North Street and Other Poems (New York: HarperCollins, 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Jonathan Galassi. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: North Street and Other Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 20002001)
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