Shakespeare on death: A man can die but once
García Lorca: Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías

Giuseppe Ungaretti : His name was Mohammed Sceab

In Memoriam

His name was
Mohammed Sceab
descendant
of emirs of the nomads1910postcardmaghrebiby
he killed himself
because he no longer had
a homeland

He loved France
and changed his name
He was Marcel
but he was not French
and he did not know any more
how to live

In the tents of his people
where they listen to the chant
of the Koran
sipping coffee

And he did not know how
to get away from
the chant
of his defection

I went with him
together to the landlady of the hotel
where we lived
in Paris
at number 5 rue des Carmes
a sloping dingy alley

He rests in the graveyard of Ivry
a suburb that always
looks like the day
the carnival comes down.

And perhaps only I
still know
that he was alive.

   --Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970)

Si chiamava
Moammed Sceab
discendente
di emiri di nomadi
suicida
perchè non aveva più

Patria

Amò la Francia
e mutò nome
Fu Marcel
ma non era Francese
e non sapeva più vivere
nella tenda dei suoi
dove si ascolta la cantilena
del Corano
gustando un caffè

E non sapeva
scioglere
il canto
del suo abbandono

L'ho accompagnato
insieme alla padrona dell' albergo
dove abitavamo
a Parigi
dal numero 5 della rue des Carmes
appassito vicolo in discesa

Riposa nel camposanto d'Ivry
sobborgo che pare
sempre in una giornata
di una
decomposta fiera.

E forse io solo
se ancora
che visse.

        30 September 1916

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