Low Tide
Eugenio Montale

(b.1896 Genoa; d. 1981 Milan. Nobel Prize 1975)

Evenings of cries, when the swing
rocks in the summerhouse of other days
and a dark vapor barely veils
the sea's fixity.

Those days are gone. Now swift flights
slant across the wall, the plummeting
of everything goes on and on, the steep coast
swallows even the reef that first lifted you
above the waves.

With the breath of spring comes
a mournful undertow of lives
engulfed; and in the evening,
black bindweed, only your memory
writhes and resists.

Rises over the embankments, the distant tunnel
where the train, slowly crawling, enters.
Then, unseen, a lunar flock comes drifting in
to browse on the hills.

(transl. Wm Arrowsmith)