Italian Poetry in translation

The Enemy's Horses

by Alessandro Ricci


In Italian

Books by the same author


Alessandro Ricci I cavalli del nemico

I cavalli del nemico


Alessandro Ricci  L'arpa romana

L’arpa romana



da L'arpa romana


Poems from the book I cavalli del nemico by Alessandro Ricci

Translation by Nail Chiodo



All my recollections have to do with interruptions.
My house, a lot of fantasies and people who are dead
or missing, is a recollection; likewise my town, whose
every elegance is a site of bewilderment - where has she gone,
where has who gone? -; Palazzo Farnese, San Bartolomeo
all'Isola, Villa Caffarelli are recollections and, like these,
ghosts, unfinished factories, never
planned, perhaps
torn down, trees not planted, dried up,

I wander among these ruins - like a volunteer
who lends a hand to the National Guard after a serious quake,
and to firemen from Umbria, the Veneto, also from other regions
and States: but it's my country, where
I've lost something in every place - in the evening thinking
that an animal from the Caucasus - down there they remember
Napoleon - if from the first
to the last day of my life
had been with me and wanted to stay,
I wouldn't have any recollection of it.

I too, therefore, if it is true that I'll continue
to drag along with me from birth certificate
(so to speak) to death certificate,
am not a recollection.In fact:

I am no recollection.



On a lucid Ionian beach in September,
sun solitude silence on the level and just,
a late Platonic pupil reads the Symposium
and Phaedrus two kilometers away from Route 106 Taranto-
-Reggio Calabria, in 1988, amongst closed
seaside discoteques, faded and enormous advertisements
of suntan lotions, prophylactics and deodorants
for either sex, whose commercial effects are obvious
on an average, middle and interminable target
of plastified and rubbery scraps of the same
brands, and rediscovers in the speech of Diotima
that beauty is for itself and in itself, eternally
univocal, supposing that a short distance away from Capo
Colonna, 23 centuries before, in that same
place, Greeks with sweet
words and concerns thought at length
about this, also while on their way home and during
the night, and then on the following day, month,
year: almost for a whole life, except
during intervals of danger, anger,
coin counting, physical torments but not
the approach of death:
what would the sea think who has been grinding
since the start and has neither learned nor will ever learn
anything, though it participates - that Greece
was Mediterranean - of the charms of Socrates
and of Plato?

And if those same Greeks had felt that idea,
so wonderful and consuming, as one that was not new to them,
and had the recollection of their other halves, before the sensible
world began, carried inside them like an ancient longing,
like an eternal illusion: then why did niendship and not
love last until the last day and perhaps even after?

The wretch of the XX Century who reads with such grave
delay remote, luminous thoughts is among those who are wounded
to death: he is consoled by the extreme gentility
of the distant tables, the reasonings
for life amid the white columns, silver
olive groves, now the water in which is smoothened
years of backwards commotion
up to the very first and beyond in an
enormous desire not to have been born, or ever
conceived; and he hopes also that Epicurus has had
a serene end and not the wrong idea about the dispersion
of atoms: he latches on to everything, also to the desire
- hell is here - to overdrink
the sea, lose his senses,

Instead he makes nothing of it, and is mistaken.

He could walk and get a tan all the way to Capo
Rizzuto, to Punta dell'Alice or Stilo: the beach
is endless and there are levigated stones and thoughts
of consolation and disruption without anyone being around
and a single face, which one has given an impossible appointment to,
which wriggles from the distance, between forehead and nape of the neck,

If this man knew we lived in times
of praxis, of corporeal honours, of things done well,
of underselling of what is useless for which saints of many
religions were done for telling the truth,
lay or transcendent that it be, and if he counted I'm not saying
the weeks, but the few days and the hours during which
he has been accepted for what he is - in quaquaversal peril lost in reverie
promised -, and by contrast the accidents of glory mirrored
in ravished eyes in the (rare) exercises of shrewdness,
phlegm and violence which occurred self-falsifyingly
- gestures words body ferocious and exact -:
this man would understand that life is astute,
that the pacts of souls are to be verified
in matter, in as many things as happen
in every minute of the little time that they grant him,
after which he gives himself a score,
and loses himself.

He wouldn't ask any longer: "And me?", because
he would see as pitiless the surrounding desert,
faraway his own soul, which before was
undivided, and he would smoke its residues in a cigarette,
in a glass of bitter, in an atrocious imitation
of stone dead landscapes, of flights
struck in flight,
of unutterred promises, of meetings not

And instead all this happens; the gregale,
light in simpering, ever so slowly ruffles the sparkling
crests of the sea up to the horizon where the sun,
the fog and a cargo ship mingle and here
a young emerald green pine grove and the sand,
capable in the south of some barely plotted
eddies; the seagulls fly, happy and indifferent;
at 3.30 PM they make or wait for phone calls.

my God - and may you be damned - tell me
if all this be true,
or not.

Translated by Nail Chiodo

Alessandro Ricci (Garessio 1943 – Roma 2004), was always keen on mechanics, machines, motors and gearing. A genial planner of never manufactured cars, he earnt his living by teaching. He wrote plots and screenplays for cinema and television (some of which were collected in 1980 in a volume titled La storia a misura d'uomo), the last one being for the film De Reditu – Il ritorno. Secluded poet, misunderstood even by himself, he published two books of verses: Le segnalazioni mediante i fuochi, in 1985, and Indagini sul crollo, in 1989. I cavalli del nemico and L’arpa romana were published posthumous in these editions.


Original book:

Alessandro Ricci
I cavalli del nemico
2004, Pages 128, Euro 12,00

ISBN 978-88-89299-28-9

Alessandro Ricci I cavalli del nemico
Edizioni Il Labirinto