Recalling Pier Paolo Pasolini: A Force of the Past

Today is Pasolini's 36th death anniversary. He was brutally killed on the night of November 2, 1975 in still unclear circumstances and found the following morning by a blue collar on his way to work. Pasolini is possibly Italy's most important poet after Dante. An amazing intellectual who truly loved the lowest classes, which he celebrated in his deeply profound novels and poems. As Jack Hirschman points out, his three initials stand for "Passion, Provocation and Prophecy." This is so true. 

I wish to celebrate Pasolini posting Orson Welles' reading one of his poems of which I am also including a translation. "I am a Force of the Past" roars Pasolini. No, he is much more than that. He is still today a Force of the Present and of the Future too. 

I am a Force of the Past.
My love lies only in tradition.
I come from the ruins, the churches,
the altarpieces, the villages
abandoned in the Appenines or foothills
of the Alps where my brothers once lived.
I wander like a madman down the Tuscolana,
down the Appia like a dog without master.
Or I see the twilights, the mornings
over Rome, the Ciociaria, the world,
as the first acts of Posthistory
to which I bear witness, for the privilege
of recording them from the outer edge

of some buried age. Monstrous is the man
born of a dead woman's womb.
And I, a fetus now grown, roam about
more modern than any modern man,
in search of brothers no longer alive.

Translation by Stephen Sartarelli 


  1. Salve, Alessandra. It'd be nice if you gave me credit for the translation of Pasolini you use here, since it's mine and will be appearing in my forthcoming selection of his verse to be published by U. of Chicago press. (I assume you got it from Jeremy Parzen's blog.) There is also a typographical error in your transcription of it. The antepenultimate line should say "a fetus now grown", instead of "... not grown," as you have it ("feto adulto" in the original). Incidentally, I was led to your blog from the Occupy Wall Street poetry anthology.

    Thanks, Stephen Sartarelli

  2. Stephen,

    I am more than glad to give you credit for the translation. I am a translator myself and I am very sensitive about copyright infringement. I found your translation online, but I honestly must have not noticed your name being mentioned there. I apologize for this.

    Thanks for making me notice the mistake. I promptly corrected it.

    All the best from the Eternal city!

  3. Thanks, Alessandra. Please give my best to Rome.


  4. It was the least I could do, Stephen.

    I am looking forward to reading the Pasolini anthology with your translations. Pasolini is my favorite Italian poet, after Dante.

    Rome sends you her warmest regards.


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