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Pier Paolo Pasolini

The Resistance and Its Light

About this Poem 

“‘The Resistance and Its Light’ was translated during a moment of personal grief in which Pasolini’s structured luminescence was a balm. It’s from his book Roman Poems.”
Brandon Brown

The Resistance and Its Light

Pier Paolo Pasolini

translated by Brandon Brown 

so I came to the days of the Resistance
I didn’t know anything but style
it was a style made totally of light
memorable recognition
of sun. It could never fade
not even for an instant
even as Europe trembled
on its deadliest evening
we escaped from Casarsa
with our stuff in a cart
to a ruined village
among canals and vineyards it was pure light
my brother left, it was a mute morning
March, in a train, disguised
his pistol in a book it was pure light
he lived a long time in the mountains
which shone like paradise in the blue gloom
of Friulian plains it was pure light
in the attic of our farmhouse my mother
always stared at those mountains
hopeless, she saw the future it was pure light
with a few poor people I lived
a glorious life, persecuted
by despicable rhetoric it was pure light
the day of death came
Independence Day, the martyred world
knew itself again in the light…

the light was the thought of justice
I didn’t know what kind of justice
all light equal to all other light
then it changed, the light like an uncertain morning
a waxing dawn that spread all over
Friulian fields and canals
struggling workers in the light
the rising dawn was a light I mean
beyond the eternity of style
in history, justice has been
the realization of a humane
distribution of money, hope
maybe, brighter than that
new light

Copyright © 2015 by Brandon Brown. Used with permission of the translator.

Copyright © 2015 by Brandon Brown. Used with permission of the translator.

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Toi Derricotte speaking with Claudia Rankine and Juan Felipe Herrera backstage. Poets Forum, New York City, 2014
collection

Women Poets in History

A collection of essays and ephemera about several women poets whose lives and work have influenced American poetry.

poem

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Maya Angelou
1978