Atlantide, Bory de Saint-Vincent

[by Alberto Guareschi]

With a note handwritten by Mr. Himself

(…) and then cut out

from the Chinese paper roll

(still intact in the cabinet!)

a sheet to draw new lands

emerged from the depths of dreams,

sketching ad libitum

their coasts, smoke spirals

from the volcanoes,

rivers lakes and oceans

in blue, plains and fields

in the same colour

of sunflowers, the forests

in varying shades of green –

randomly spread on the seas,

protected by coral reefs,

islands large and small

and anything else the phantasy

would give birth to:

towns afloat again from the mists of time,

the pattern of caravan routes

through the deserts –

finally still white the paper sheet,

such as many more of that roll

from the Great Wall:

it seemed an easy thing

to place on rice paper

mental landscapes imagined

through lonely hours,

when dreams spirally chase each other

and disappear from memory at once –

and it remains unconceivable

to see all those lands

disappear like Atlantis

without the slightest sign

still reminding of their existence,

swallowed by nothingness,

as if they had never turned on

flashes of light or been,

in their fragile beauty,

the only, real landing place

on this side of the line

of the horizon –

I often recalled

what I had read some day

about an ancient painter (Tang dynasty)

who, having laid down his brushes,

had entered the canvas in the flesh

disappearing amidst

trees and bamboo

just painted. And of the many times

I had seen big-bellied statues

of the Great Mothers

with enormous breasts

and asses so low almost down to the ground.

Had there not been, after the last one,

still another canvas

of signs and words to recompose,

I would rather set forth

to the nutshell of prenatal world

through that deep cut

engraved in their belly and then fall asleep

the time of a long lethargy

without tomorrow.


Alberto Guareschi (Parma, 1940) lives in Lucca since almost forty years. As an executive and then director of some state and private industrial groups he has travelled extensively, not only for professional reasons, in various countries and continents, thus enriching the range of his cultural experiences and interests. In 1976 he was among the founders of Pratiche Editrice, a member of its literary board and CEO. As an author he has published three books of poetry: Verso Cipro (Guanda, 1963), Teatrini del signor Egli (Diabasis, 2004, with an introduction by Roberto Carifi) and Stella polare (Passigli, 2016) where the poems in this issue are included. Notable his activity as an editor and translator, particularly for Guanda that published in 1989 the first Italian edition of the German classic by J. P. Hebel, Tesoretto dell’Amico di casa renano. Guanda published also his selection of F. Hoelderlin’s poetry, L’arcipelago e altre poesie (1965), the translation of Nietzsche’s Ditirambi di Dioniso (1967) and of Hermann Hesse’s novels Nel chiosco di Pressel (introduction by G. Zampa) and Giorni di luglio (1990). By Tony Duvert he has translated Récidive (foreword by Guido D. Bonino, Pratiche Editrice, 1978) and Quando morì Jonathan (Savelli, 1981). Other poetry translations (from Georges Bataille, Sarah Kirsch and H. M. Enzensberger) appeared in the Eighties on “Il Raccoglitore”, bi-monthly cultural magazine of Gazzetta di Parma, and on “Rassegna Lucchese”. In 2008 Diabasis published, based on his project and edited by A. Niero, Balcony and other poems (with an introductory essay by Iosip Brodskij) of the Russian poet and friend Evgenij Rejn.

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