Pier Paolo Pasolini
5 marzo 1922 – 2 novembre 1975
La verità non sta in un solo sogno, ma in molti sogni
E adesso, come allora, scompaiono cantando
The twilight border between sleep and waking was a Roman one this morning: splashing fountains and arched, narrow streets, the golden lavish city of blossoms and age-soft stone. Sometimes in this semi-consciousness he sojourned again in Paris, or war German rubble, or Swiss skiing and a snow hotel. Sometimes, also, in a fallow Georgia field at hunting dawn. Rome it was this morning in the yearless region of dreams.
– Carson McCullers, The Sojourner (1950)
On the ninth of August, 1964, Rome lay asleep in afternoon light as the sun swirled in a blinding pinwheel above its roofs, its low hills, and its gilded domes. The city was quiet and all was still except the crowns of a few slightly swaying pines, one lost and tentative cloud, and an old man who rushed through the Villa Borghese, alone. Limping along paths of crushed stone and tapping his cane as he took each step, he raced across intricacies of sunlight and shadow spread before him on the dark garden floor like golden lace.
– Mark Helprin. A Soldier of the Great War. Avon Books, 1991.
(Misera e stupenda città 2013)
(1939 – 2013)
Back in May of this year we had the good fortune of briefly speaking to Mr Heaney here in Rome where he had been a guest at the conference Ovid Transformed. In his wonderful, musical voice with what grace he asked:
Seamus Heaney: “So, are you a writer?”
Reply: “Well, we pretend to be sometimes.”
Seamus Heaney: “Oh, don’t we all, don’t we all.”
(Misera e stupenda città 2013)
Rome was our city, it tolerated and coddled us and I too ended up discovering – despite the sporadic jobs, the weeks of hunger, the dark and humid hotel rooms full of jaundiced and brittle furniture like some obscure sickness of the liver – it was the only place I could have lived. And yet, when I think back on those years, I can’t remember more than a few faces, a few moments. There’s a particular inebriation to Rome that incinerates your memories. More than a city, it is a secret part of you, an animal hidden somewhere inside. And there are no half measures with her, either, it’s either head over heels or time to get going because, above all, the city demands devotion. But, in the end, this is the only tribute that will ever be asked of you […]. If you love her, she will offer herself up to you just the way you want, and you won’t have to do anything but float […]. And for you, then, those summer nights pierced with lights, those vibrant spring mornings, café napkins like women’s skirts blown about by wind, the biting winters and interminable autumns when the city seems powerless and sick, exhausted, swollen with the decapitated leaves you cover with your soundless steps. And for you, then, too the dazzling stairways and rushing fountains, the ruined temples and the now ousted gods’ nocturnal silences until time itself loses all meaning. And this is precisely how, day after day, waiting, you will become a part of her. And this is how you too will begin to feed the city until one sun-filled day, a slight scent of sea in the wind, you will look up at the sky and realize there is nothing left to wait for at all.
– Gianfranco Calligarich. L’ultima estate in città. Garzanti, 1973
(translation Misera e stupenda città)