of the Hour
the Italian of Salvatore Quasimodo)
man of the hour, your stone and catapult
Have gone high-tech. You were there in the cockpit -
I saw you - with your wings striped with malice,
Your dials of death. Up inside the tank's turret,
At the gibbet or manning torture's wheels, it was you -
All your science honed like a stiletto -
Christless, love switched to hate. Still you're at it,
Like your killed and killing forebears
Repaid the beasts' first glance with spears...
And the blood's a lingering stench as on the day
Brother beckoned brother into the fields:
That cold, stubborn echo reaches across the years,
The present its amplifier. Forget, forget...
These clouds now risen from earth once more
And which, thicker than any water, obscure
The sky. Forget the fathers and forefathers:
Dark birds, the wind, are their hearts' coverlet,
Their tombs founder amidst so much ash.