Umberto Saba


A Winter Noon


Who in the moment of my happiness

(God forgive my using a word so grand,

so terrible) reduced my brief delight

nearly to tears? No doubt you'll say: "A certain

beautiful creature who was walking by

and smiled at you." But no: a child's balloon,

a blue, meandering balloon against

the azure of the air, my native sky

never so clear and cold as it was then,

at high noon on a dazzling winter day.

That sky with here and there a wisp of cloud,

and upper windows flaming in the sun,

and faint smoke from a chimney, maybe two,

and over everything, every divine

thing, that globe that had escaped a boy's

incautious fingers (surely he was out there

broadcasting through the crowded square his grief,

his immense grief) between the great facade

of the Stock Exchange and the café where I,

behind a window, watched with shining eyes

the rise and fall of what he once possessed.


                                 —translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock