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“And then we cowards” by Cesare Pavese

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I have a headache the size of the ocean. No regrets, and the cup of pencils I threw across my shoulder in a fit of sweeping rage was worth it. Some things I learned last night: the world doesn’t stop, not ever. Not even for this. I only wished it would, but I don’t hold it in my hands. Loneliness sweeps through the body at any given time. It will leave only when it is done.

I do not have the strength to talk about it any more, so maybe I won’t. I can’t move on, not just yet, but the crying is done. The crying is done.

“And then we cowards”
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.

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This poem appeared in Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950 by Cesare Pavese, translated by Geoffrey Brock, published by Copper Canyon Press, 2002. Shared here with profound gratitude.

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