Dear Life, I do not ask of you, perfect
features, flattering faces, or possessions.
In your unquiet rounds, honey and absinthe
taste almost the same.
The heart that scorns every beat
rarely suffers a shock.
The way a gunshot sounds
in the silence of the wood.
Happiness at Heart
Happiness at heart, we walk
in fear at edge of blade,
you seem a flickering beam
taut, crackling ice to feet;
let him loving you best not touch you.
If you reach souls overwhelmed
by grief, and you appease them, your dawn
is sweet and precarious as nests on treetops.
But nothing redeems the tears of a child
when his balloon is lost amid the houses.
Eugenio Montale (1896–1981) was an Italian poet, prose writer, editor and translator, and recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature.
(translations by D. M. Pettinella)2