Treasure Island

Cesare Pavese

(9 September 1908 – 27 August 1950 / Santo Stefano Belbo)

Street Song


Why be ashamed? When one has done time,
if they let one out, it's because like everybody else
who belongs to the streets, one has been in prison.

From morning till evening we wander the avenues
whether it's raining or a beautiful sun's showing its face.
It's a joy to meet on the avenues people who talk
and talking among ourselves, bump into girls.
It's a joy to wait and whistle at girls from doorways,
hug them on the streets and take them to movies
and smoking in secret, lean on their beautiful knees.
It's a joy to talk and finger them laughing,
and at night in bed, feeling flung on one's neck
their two arms pulling you down, thinking of morning
when one is released from prison in the fresh sunlight.

From morning till evening wandering drunk
and watching laughing passersby enjoying everybody
—even ugly people—just to feel themselves on the streets.
From morning till evening singing drunkenly
and meeting drunkards and starting discussions
that last a long time and make us thirsty.
All these characters who go talking among themselves,
we want them with us at night, down in the trough,
and to hound them with our guitar
that skips drunkenly and cannot stay confined
but throws the doors wide open to echo in the air—
outside water or stars may rain down. It doesn't matter
if on the avenues at this hour no beautiful girls are strolling:
among us is one who laughs to himself
because he has also been released from prison tonight,
and with him, raising a ruckus and singing, we'll make it to morning.

Submitted: Sunday, March 25, 2012

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