"In Sleep"

 

In Sleep

by Eugenio Montale (translated from the Italian by Charles Wright)

 

The cries of owls, or the intermittent hearbeats

of dying butterflies,

or the moans and sighs

of the young, or the error that tightens

like a garrote around the temples, or the vague horror

of cedars uprooted by the onrush of night--all this

can come back to me, overflowing from ditches,

bursting from waterpipes, and awaken me

to your voice. The music of a slow, demented dance

cuts through; the enemy clangs down

his visor, hiding his face. The amaranth moon

enters behind the closed eyelids, becomes a swelling

cloud; and when sleep takes it

deeper in, it is blood beyond any death.

 

Source: Poems of Sleep and Dreams. Everyman's Library, 2004. 50.