Eugenio Montale

All Soul’s Day

Gina has lighted a large candle for her dead.
She lit it in the kitchen; the dead are many and not near.
It is necessary to return to when she was a child
and breakfast coffee was a fistful of dried chestnuts.
It is necessary to recreate a father, small and old,
and his long walks to find a drop of sweet wine
     for her.
He himself could drink neither sweet nor dry wines
because money was lacking and he had to feed
the piglets she used to bring to pasture.
Among the dead one can include the school mistress
     who used to award the rod
to the frozen fingers of the child. Dead
also, are some of the living and half-alive about
to board the ferry. It is a large number of next to nothing
because they have brought no piglets to pasture.

— translated from the Italian by Giovanni Malto