Saturday, January 17, 2009


“The world needs more poets”, said the reciter at a book presentation I attended last night, “for beauty can save the world.” The lovely poetry and musical interpretation of it that I heard at this event affirmed my belief that this is so.

I was particularly pleased to have been invited for two reasons: that the new poetry book was by Professore Antonio Lonardo, a Modican teacher and poet whose work I have come to love and the fact that the presentation took place at the ITC Archimede, the school that first welcomed me to Modica as a teacher in charge of an exchange and with which I feel I have a special bond. Professore Lonardo had taught there for 16 years so there was a very happy atmosphere and you could immediately sense the pride of both his former colleagues and newer members of the “Archimede family” in “their” poet.

In November 2005 I attended the presentation of Professore Lonardo’s first collection, Desiderio di Luce [Wishing for Light] and, with his permission, I now quote from this work the first two verses of his poem, Shalom, as it has resonances for the world situation today:

È il grido
dei popoli in ansia,
è la voce
della coscienza tremante,
è il desiderio
degli uomini liberi.

È il suono
lontano che cresce,
è il desiderio
inconscio di tutti,
è l’eco
diffusa del mondo.

Is the cry
of those who live in fear
is the voice
of trembling conscience
and the desire
of all free men.

Is the distant sound
which is growing louder
is the unconscious desire
of all of us
which echoes
throughout the world.

[My translation.]

The new collection is entitled Le Stagioni del Cuore [Seasons of the Heart] and I think the title tells you much about the subject matter. Professore Lonardo expresses in verse his love for poetry, family, people in general, life itself and God. He also explores the phenomenon of time.

My favourite poem from the collection is this one [again quoted with Professore Lonardo’s permission]:

Per un attimo
ho perso la chiave
del mio cuore;
l’ho ritrovata
in fondo al tuo sguardo,
che ha spalancato
il mio intimo.

For a moment
I lost the key
to my heart;
I found it again
in the depths of your eyes
which threw open
the door of my heart.

[My translation.]

After each reading of three or four poems, a pianist played a piece of evocative music chosen to enhance their effect on us all. There were cries of “bellissima!” and much applause each time. At the end of the reading Professore Lonardo, visibly touched by these interpretations and by the obvious affection for him in the room, thanked everyone and invited us, before partaking of a feast of dolci, to take a little ribbon-tied bigliettino; on each of these he had written an extract from one of the poems. Mine, appropriately, read:

Ho scoperto l’orizzonte
Dove spunta il sole;
è nei profondi occhi
di chi sorride alla vita.

I have discovered the horizon
where the sun rises;
it is in the depths of the eyes
of those who smile at life.

[From Singolari Esperienze – my translation.]

When I read or hear poetry and music like that I know I was right to come and live among Sicilians.


Anonymous said...

Ah, the Sicilian zest for life and all its passionate expressions!

I especially like this:

I have discovered the horizon
where the sun rises;
it is in the depths of the eyes
of those who smile at life.

I feel this in my heart. I too love the Sicilian people and all people with a deep passion for life and love and beauty. I count myself blessed to have lived among them for a few years :-)

Thank you, Welshcakes, for sharing this with all of us out here looking in.

Unknown said...

what a beautiful event and I enjoyed reading the poetry. The combination of spoken word and music must have been lovely. I find it inspiring to hear about creative events taking place not too far from me on this island!

CherryPie said...

It sounds a wonderful evening :-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Gary. Yes, I like those lines too. You are right about the Sicilians' passion for life. I know exactly how you feel about them. Thank you, Gary, for your kind words.
Hi, Lost in Sicily. I think we are very lucky for creative events in Modica.
It was, Cherie.

Ellee Seymour said...

Do poems written in the Italian language sound more romantic? I bet they do.

Gary, I hope to one day meet the Sicilians that have touched Welshcake's heart and I can write a poem about them too.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Ellee. Well, they can do but some poetry in English sounds very romantic too! You are always welcome here - you know that.

jmb said...

What a wonderful occasion for you to attend Welshcakes. Wonderful poem and you did such a good job with the translation.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Many thanks, jmb.

Liz Hinds said...

Key is so lovely!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Liz. Yes, I like that one, too.


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