The feeling of a city

Written by  Roberto Pazzi
Ferrara today in my recent verses.
"Higher Ferrara", from "Talismani", Marietti 2003. This is a poem which captures the metaphysical side of Ferrara, on the occasion of a snowfall which transforms the shapes of this historic city. The town is seen as a single, large house, made up of many rooms, our own homes.

"Where history doesn't go", from Talismani, Marietti 2003. The subject of the poem is the railway station. It is seen as a point of departure for dreams, utopias, brought through maturity into an acceptance of reality.

"Mirrors Old and New" Unpublished work from 2003. Ferrara's railway station again features, seen now as a place of repetitive back-and-forth activity, but also as a place which evokes dreams of departure with no return.

"Snowfall on the Po Valley". Unpublished work from 2004. Snow, again but this time not on the city but in the area which immediately surrounds it. The poem is a meditation on memory and its invisible influence concealed within the present, inspired
by Ferrara's winter landscape covered with snow that hides the earth.

"Return to the Sea". Unpublished work from 2004. The memory of the mythical, fabulous seaside holidays of youth, reread in the recounting of the route to the station.

The grip of winter
draws bodies together to love,
tires the step,
and betrays old years,
in the sight of a new one
it persuades them to rest.
As a boy, I dreamed
a city's streets
where all that can be heard
are clocks marking time
real rooms in a house.
Today this Ferrara is mine
silently gliding
on banks of snow
from the windows
to the heights of the drifting city.
from Talismani, Marietti, 2003


The sacredness of nothing
is a provincial station
with a train passing through
which doesn't stop but tears
through the town air with its whistle
and its promises to wake it up,
pick it up and carry it far away with it,
no-one knows where,
not even the train driver.
In a station like mine,
Tolstoy died, in Astapovo,
prey to the same impulse
to awake and set out
not knowing where.
The awakening was death.
Oh, the joy of my departures!
all summed up in the great
departure which awaits me
in this waiting room
in Ferrara, on an ordinary afternoon.
Where history doesn't go
born of nothingness
the sacredness of waiting no longer.
Ferrara, 11 April 2003, from Talismani, Marietti 2003.


Mirrors where I don't tire
of looking at myself are
provincial stations,
second class carriages,
old folk trailing shopping trollies,
bicycles parks, where bikes are chained to railings,
people who queue for the bus
and meanwhile gaze into the distance
and see nothing appearing.
But sometimes I surprise myself by looking
in other, more ancient mirrors
when I read a line of verse
which struck me twenty years ago
'Happiness, for you
we walk on a knife edge?'
Here, at fifty seven
the old longing for enchantment urges me
to call out and tell you these lines
which still make me tremble,
but it would be the same mistake
with you too,
I have yet to learn
that the joy flees from your name
and your shadow cannot be caught.
Ferrara, 24 December 2003.



Beneath the ground white as the sky
is my bread of gratitude
for the road travelled, for dreaded dangers,
fears and long periods of waiting which vanish
all eaten away little by little,
the cards of the pack held in the hands,
now already laid out on the table,
a hand already empty.
This landscape is me,
I savour the landscape from above myself, once so small, now grown up,
only a few stations remain,
I can look calmly about me,
waste time, now I've lived so much of it,
thinking over all this whiteness
which today dazzles my eyes:
the world with my life within
awaits me with closed eyes.
And thus closing them, taste the kiss of a new love,
from a beautiful, and trembling mouth.
Ferrara, 27 January 2004


Your time has become
a prisoner's journey to and from the cell,
the wait of the commuter
who each day espies escape
in the great clock/on the same pavement.
He goes back to the platform numbers,
An old arithmetic of arrivals and departures,
it is still a game
counting the minutes and the connections,
since childhood you always dreamed of escaping
from Ferrara to go back to the sea.
The route to happiness
was the road to the station.
Born in the water
today you would like to go back there
but you don't know if the delays/are a hunger to arrive
or the fear of discovering
that all this blue has evaporated
and the sea is no longer there.
Ferrara, 18 February 2004.