Pasolini's poetic verve



Pasolini was a writer more than a filmmaker

In the opening sequence of the film Pasolini (2014), by Abel Ferrara, during the interview given to Antenne 2, on October 31, 1975, for the release of Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (Saló or the 120 days of Sodom) in France, when asked about the professional qualification he preferred, the character of Pier Paolo Pasolini replied that his passport stated “writer”.

A writer more than a filmmaker, no doubt, because Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote poetry, short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, essays, reviews, journalistic texts, etc.; but, perhaps, it would be more accurate to say, as Alfonso Beradinelli suggested that, above all, he considered himself a poet: “writing poetry for Pasolini was the most natural of the arts, a daily activity he could not do without, an original passion and almost manic that allowed him to immediately recognize himself: a kind of propitiatory, devotional, hygienic practice, which he could not give up if he wanted to maintain or rediscover faith in himself. If he was sure he was a poet, he could become anything else.”

Pier Paolo Pasolini debuted in literature with the small volume Poetry to Casarsa (July 14, 1942), a collection of fourteen compositions written between mid-1941 and early 1942, at his own expense. The work was divided into two sections: “I – Poetry to Casarsa”, having as epigraph three verses of the song “Ab l'alen tir vas me l'aire” by the Occitan troubadour Peire Vidal (second half of the XNUMXth century – beginning of the XNUMXth century), which included thirteen compositions; “II – La domenica howls”, whose theme was introduced by four lines of “Mother”, by Giuseppe Ungaretti, was a dialogue between a mother and her son (named in Italian), which came to counterbalance the dedication to the father. Despite the general title, subtitles and most of the titles of the compositions in Italian, the poems had been written in Friulian, a language spoken in Casarsa della Delizia, his mother's hometown, where the family used to spend their holidays.

By composing in Friulian and dedicating the volume to his father – an army officer, an ardent fascist, confined in a prison camp in Kenya (1941-1945) –, the novice poet so defied the fascist authorities that they prohibited the use of lines regional, as well as parental authority, which condemned this type of transgression. In the review of the work, At the limit of dialettale poetry (Corriere del Ticino, April 24, 1943), Gianfranco Contini highlighted the “strongly differentiated variety” of the author's Friulian, highlighting how a dialect could “momentarily become 'almost a language'”.

By placing dialect and language on the same linguistic level, Pasolini, although he insisted on the “untranslatability” of the former, did nothing more than “underline the internal translatability” of the latter. In this sense, the reader was faced with “the first access of 'dialectal' literature to the aura of contemporary poetry”. And so the young Pier Paolo already established himself as a poet from his first publication.

As Nico Naldini, cousin of Pier Paolo Pasolini, pointed out: “The Friulian spoken in Casarsa has always echoed around him since childhood; and, although Venetian is spoken in the maternal household as in all petty-bourgeois families, Friulian has always been obligatory in relations with peasant friends”.

In a text from 1963, which is part of Heretical empiricism (1972), in a memory that slipped into the mythical, the writer recorded his discovery of Friulian as a language of poetry. On a sunny morning in the summer of 1941, he suddenly heard the word rosy (dew, in Italian; dew, in Portuguese), uttered exactly by a young peasant: “Certainly, that word, during all the centuries of its use in the Friuli that extends on this side of the Tagliamento river, had never been written. It had always been just a sound. […] And I immediately wrote verses in that friulian speech from the right bank of the Tagliamento, which until that moment had been just a set of sounds: first of all, I began to make the word “pink” graphic. That first experimental poetry disappeared: the second remained, which I wrote the following day: It will be unbarlumida, like a fossil / a cres l'aga…”. Its about "Il nìni muàrt”, second composition of Poetry to Casarsa:

“Il nìni muàrt”
Sere imbarlumide, tal fossàl
a' crès l'àghe, 'na fèmine plène
a' ciamine tal ciamp.
Jo ti ricuàrdi, Narcìs, tu vèvis el color
da la sere, quànt lis ciampanis
a' sunin di muàrt.[1]

the dead child
Luminous dusk, in the moat
the water rises, a pregnant woman
walks in the meadow.
I remember you, Narciso, with your color
at dusk, when the bells
they play the dead.

From 1923, Pasolini had lived in several cities, due to his father's transfers: Parma and Scandiano, in Emilia-Romagna; Belluno (where his brother Guido was born) and Conegliano, in Veneto; Casarsa, Sacile (where, at the age of seven, encouraged by his mother, he wrote his first poetry) and Idria, in Friuli; Cremona, in Lombardy; finally returning to Bologna, his native land, in 1936. At the end of 1942, the outbreak of war took the small family, deprived of their father, back to Casarsa. There, among other things, Pier Paolo dedicated himself to remembering almost all the places of his childhood, in the poetry collection Via degli amori (1946), written, as the pioneer Poems (1945), in Italian. The interested reader can read the Portuguese translation of some of these compositions in the article “Pier Paolo Pasolini: early times”.

During the Friulian period, “the author recognized as a master, the referent explicitly declared, paternity elected as ideal – and opposed, in Poetry to Casarsa, for real – it was Ungaretti's, and Ungaretti's feeling of time”, a 1933 collection, in which the young poet “rediscovered the myth of the Italian poetic language as singing”, as Francesca Cadel pointed out, also reporting words from Pasolini himself at the end of the 1960s, for whom the name of Ungaretti “echoed as a symbol of new poetry and a new time in life”.

Some dialect poetry extracted from The best youth (which incorporated Poetry to Casarsa), a collection published in 1954, will give an idea of ​​his poetic work. In “Fevràr” (1943), the theme is the alluded winter return to the mother city because of the war:

Sensa fuèjs a era l'aria,
sgivìns, ledris, moràrs…
si jodèvin lontàns
i borcs sot i mons clars.
Strac di zujà ta l'erba,
in tai dis of Fevràr,
i felt myself here, bagnàt
dal zèil da l'aria verda.
I soj become di estàt.
And, in miès da la ciampagna,
if misteri di fuèjs!
e àins ch'a son passàs!
Adès, echo Fevràr,
sgivìns, ledris, moràrs…
Mi sinti cà ta l'erba,
i àins son pas par nuja.[2]

Leafless the air was,
mulberry trees, vineyards, valleys...
In the distance they saw
villages at the foot of clear mountains
Tired of playing on the lawn,
in those days of february,
I sat here, whole
through the dewy green air.
Back in the summer.
And in the middle of the field,
the mystery of the foliage!
how many years since!
And now it's February,
ditches, vineyards, mulberry trees...
I sit on the lawn,
years in vain have passed.

The next composition – “Alba” (mid-1940s) – was inspired by “auba”, a genre of Provencal lyrics, in which scenes that occurred at the break of dawn were sung, usually the farewell of two lovers. This kind of troubadour-like poetic composition was written in Versuta, a small district of Casarsa, where Pier Paolo and his mother took refuge in October 1944 to escape Nazi-fascist raids in the region. In the translation, to respect the polysemy of the term (“dawn” and “alba” or “aubade”), we opted for “alba”, although less common in Portuguese:

The sen svejàt
dal nòuf soreli!
The me cialt jet
bagnàt di àgrimis!
Cu n'altra lus
I svej a planzi
i dìs ch'a svualin
via coma ombrenis.[3]

Oh awake chest
to the new sun!
Oh the heat of the bed
wet with tears!
with another light
I wake up and cry
the days to pass
flying like shadows.

The alba scheme will also be present in “Conzeit” (1951), written along the lines of “when lo rossinhols”, poetic troubadour composition by an anonymous author. It is interesting to note that the poetry does not allude to dawn, but rather expresses “the feeling of a definitive, desolate sunset”, in the words of Furio Brugnolo, reported in “Note and notizie sui testi”. In fact, a tone of regret and longing marks this separation:

Romài essi lontàns a val,
Friuli, essi scunussùs. on par
I had the time to love the sea
lustre e muàrt.
Inta la lus la to parte
a è finida, no ài scur tal sen
par ignì la to ombrena.[4]

Now to be far away is to say,
Friul, to be unknown. Looks
the time of our love a sea
shiny and dead.
In the light your part is over,
there is no darkness in my chest
to shelter your shadow.

In the poems in Friulian, there were traces of Venetian, as Pasolini himself had already explained in the “Note” that closes Poetry to Casarsa: “The Friulian language of these poems is not the genuine one, but the sweetly impregnated Venetian one spoken on the right bank of the Tagliamento; moreover, I used no little violence against him to make him fit in a meter and in a poetic diction”. Over time, the author will leave aside this linguistically and stylistically elaborated dialect to have a poetic function, in the words of Guido Santato, and will adopt common Friulian.

In contrast, inVegnerà el vero Cristo”, written between the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s, Pasolini exchanged the speech of the maternal locality for the Venetian of Pordenone (at the time in the province of Údine, like Casarsa), a Venetian with traces of Friulian, which not only gives an idea of ​​the linguistic varieties he used when versifying, as is recalled by the exodus of young peasants to the industrial center closest to their homeland:

Vegnerà el vero Cristo
I don't have the courage to see it:
il blù e l'onto de la tuta,
otherwise, that's my cuòr de operajo.
Mort par four franchi, operajo,
I'm sorry, I hate you all
and pers i to più veri sogni.
El era un fiol ch'el veva sogni,
a blù thread eat everything.
Vegnerà el vero Cristo, operajo,
the insegnarte to see veri sogni.[5]

The true Christ will come
I don't have the courage for dreams:
the blue and the grease of the overalls,
that's all in the worker's heart.
Killed for three pennies, worker,
the heart, you hated the jumpsuit,
lost the truest dreams.
He was a boy who had dreams,
blue like overalls.
The true Christ, worker, will come
to teach how to have true dreams.

When preparing the publication of Such a color of a fruit (1953), which, in the following year, would be incorporated into The best youth, Pasolini, in a letter to the editor Luigi Ciceri, mentioned the poetry “Suspi di me mari ta na rosa” (1947), stating that she “is there to complete the 'maternal' motif, that is, the central motif of the little book, giving the little book its balance of content”. In "Note and notizie sui testi”, this information is complemented by a reference to another composition marked by the “deep relationship between the mother and the rose”. Its about "Anger” (1960), which was part of The religion of my time (1961), in which the poet discovers a humble rose in his garden:

Anger (excerpts)
Mi avvicino più ancora, ne sento l'odore…
[...] I'm just letting go
che in questa rosa rest to breathe,
in a miserable soil istante,
l'odore della mia vita: l'odore di mia madre… […]
Niente avrebbe potuto, una volta, vincermi.
Ero chiuso nella mia vita come in the womb
maternal, in quest'ardente
odor of umile pink bagnata.
But a lottavo per uscirne […]
[..] The lotta is finished
with victory. My private existence
non è più racchiusa tra i petali d'una rosa,
– a house, a mother, a loving passion.
It is public.

Anger (excerpts)
I get even closer, I smell it...
[…] I only know
that in this rose I keep breathing,
in a single, measly instant,
the smell of my life: the smell of my mother… […]
Nothing, before, could defeat me.
I enclosed myself in my life as in a womb
maternal, in this burning
smell of humble and wet rose.
But I struggled to leave […]
[..] The fight is over
in victory. my private existence
no longer closes between the petals of a rose
– a house, a mother, a stormy passion.
It's public.[6]

Strangely, the erotic connotation that the flower assumes in the composition is not evidenced, just as, in relation to the 1947 poem, it was not mentioned that the white rose (understood as a stain), found by the mother in her son's bed, refers to the practice of self-pleasure sexual:

Suspi di me mari ta na rosa
Ti ciati tal ninsòul
white, white rose,
fànghi il jet a me fì
ti ciati tal ninsòul.
Rosuta told me,
dulà ti aia ciolta,
parsè ti àia ciolta,
la man tell me fì?
It's you, salvàdia,
eat lui che a sta ora
cui sa dulà ch'al è
Cu la pas salvàdia!
Eat such a grin dal seil
you are like ninsòul
and chel me zòvin còur
al tas sòul sot il sèil.
Dutis of the dismintiadis,
la mari and la rosa!
Zint is sweet
al ni à dismintiadis.[7]

My mother's sigh upon a rose
I find you in the sheet
white, white rose,
I make the son's bed,
I find you in the sheet.
My son's rose,
where did you pick up,
why did you pick
my son's hand
And silent, skittish,
like him, in these hours
who knows where it is
with your skittish peace!
As in the womb of heaven,
silent on the sheet
and my young heart
shut up alone under the sky.
Of the two forgotten,
of the mother and the rose!
Where will you go
already forgotten about us.

As Berardinelli stated: “The first phase of Pasolini's poetry, both in dialect and in Italian, revolves around an erotic and funereal thematic center: fire and ice, passion and death that alternate in dreams of purity and in 'impure'. adolescent impulses. This is one of the most classic lyrical swings and is part of the oldest and most enduring of traditions. But Pasolini revives it the moment he quotes it. He knows his models and predecessors well, Leopardi and Pascoli, Rimbaud, Machado, Ramón Jiménez and García Lorca, authors that he sometimes seems to translate or transcribe.

But, as they say about true poets, rather than imitating, Pasolini steals”. In fact, the young Pier Paolo appropriated suggestions from several authors, when he didn't carry out almost a translation of poetry that inspired him. It was the case ofBrass Spittoons”, by Langston Hughes. The American communist author, in the 1920s, had established himself as one of the great exponents of jazz poetry, which emerged within the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural and social movement that, from the end of the 1910s and in the following two decades, gave prominence to the African-American identity in the most varied fields:

Brass Spittoons
Clean the spettoons, boy.
atlantic city,
Palm Beach.
Clean the spettoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
and the smoke in hotel lobbies,
and the slime in hotel spettoons:
part of my life.
Hey boy!
tell me,       
a dollar,
two dollars a day.
Hey boy!
tell me,
a dollar,
two dollars
buy shoes for the baby.
House rent to pay.
Gin on Saturday,
church on Sunday.
My God!
Babies and gin and church
and women and Sunday
all mixed with dimes and
dollars and clean spittons
and house rent to pay.
Hey boy!
A bright bowl of brass is beautiful to the Lord.
Bright polished brass like the cymbals
of King David's dancers,
like the wine cups of Solomon.
Hey boy!
A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord.
A clean bright spittoon all newly polished –
at least I can offer that.
Com'mere, boy! [8]

Written on May 22, 1941, “Brass Spittoons” could be appreciated by Italian readers still in that decade, according to Cristina Lombardi-Diop: “In 1949, Leone Piccioni edited a special issue of the literary magazine poetry book (Milan) fully devoted to a wide variety of translated black poetry, including 'Our land', 'Earth song', 'The negro speaks of rivers', 'Minstrel man', 'Brass spittoons' and 'I, too', by Langston Hughes”. It is likely that the translation of “Brass spittoons” is earlier, since, in “Note e notizie sui testi”, it is recorded that it was published in n. 5 of the magazine Poetry, in 1947; moreover, Leone Piccioni, in his book on the United States, recalled that that year for the same magazine, in a section dedicated to America, he published a text on jazz and some translations of black poets and anonymous chants.

Anyway, it was from the literary critic’s translation that Pasolini became aware of poetry and wrote “Spiritual”, in the late 1940s:

Lustri al è el falsèt
tal muscle da la cort
I'm here with my husband's heart
That's the cuèssis di ciavàl da la cort,
chandelier on the stela.
Heila, bocia!
Li barghessis,
the maja,
i supiej,
i supiej da l'Anzul.
Heila, bocia!
Li barghessis,
the maja,
i supiej.
Thirty francs for cinema
i siòrs da olmà,
sgnapa di Sabo
mass of Domenia,
Cine, sgnapa and messa,
and feminis di Sabo
dut insembràt cu li barghessis,
la maja, it's false
hey siòrs da olmà.
Heila, bocia!
Il me falsèt al è pai siòrs na stela
distinguished from the piss of the century.
Cui sàia il coloròur dai vuj di un Anzul?
How do I plan the color of a family's maja?
Heila, bocia! [9]

shines the scythe
in the backyard moss
in mother's petticoats in the yard
on the horse's thighs in the yard,
Shine like a star.
Hey dude!
The pants,
the blouse,
the sandals,
Angel's sandals.
Hey dude!
The pants,
the blouse,
the sandals.
Some change for the movies
the cool ones to spy,
drip on saturdays
Mass on Sundays,
Cinema, pinga and mass,
and women on Saturdays
all mixed up with the pants,
the blouse, the scythe
and the cool ones to spy on.
Hey dude!
My scythe is a star for the cool ones
forgotten for thousands of centuries.
Who knows the color of an Angel's eyes?
Who deplores the color of a boy's blouse?
Hey dude!

According to Piera Rizzolatti, the Pasolinian “Spiritual” cannot be compared to the spiritual North American, because it is not a spiritual song, but a song of work, of suffering, for focusing on the oppression of the poor by the rich. However, although it ends with the offering to the Lord of his instrument of work – “A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord. // A gleaming clean spittoon freshly polished – / that much I can offer.” –, the bro of Hughes poetry, represents all the people in charge of the humblest tasks in luxury hotels, no matter where they are located (Detroit, Chicago, Atlantic City or Palm Beach): the life they lead is always the same and they are always poorly paid, but with what they earn it is possible to get by, to get along and to allow yourself small distractions. It is, therefore, a song about exploitation and a spiritual song, at the same time, in which social criticism predominates over the religious aspect, which appears as an escape valve, but also as an identity trait.

By making "Spiritual" a kind of " translation of "Brass Spittoons”, the Italian poet transposed the theme of the “original” to the rural universe of Friuli, also highlighting the social side rather than the religious one, which, when it manifests itself, makes it intertwined with the first. The Pasolinian composition begins with the glistening reflection of a young peasant's work tool in the environment around him: a scythe that shines like a star. the junction of fake (curved scythe with a short wooden handle) and the star refers to communist symbology and recalls the author's own engagement in the struggle of peasants against landowners, in the late 1940s.

And when the agricultural instrument and the luminous star reappear at the end of the poem, the allusion to the star of Bethlehem does not blur the established symbology, since it heralded the arrival of a new era. The reference to the Angel reinforces the advent of a revolutionary new Christ. From a formal point of view, in the central stanzas, the closest to Hughes's poetry, the characteristics of the jazz poetry that Pasolini incorporated – the looser phrasing, the syncopated rhythm, the repetitions –, which gives the poetry a less serious air than that indicated by Piera Rizzolatti.

The formal freedom ofSpiritual”, undoubtedly the most eccentric composition in relation to the western poetic tradition within which the author's production was inserted, was not the only breaking point of this first phase of his literary work, as there was a much more important factor. At the foot of the page with the poems in Friulian, Pasolini placed his translation into Italian, which was respected in this text, with the reproduction of his versions in the notes.

Guido Santato, returning to Contini's reasoning, which, according to him, “immediately captures the poetic and linguistic novelty of the apparent Pasolinian dialectality”, made a very interesting reading of these versions. In his opinion, they “represent a second redaction, parallel and coexistent to the first, elaborated with extreme care [...], precisely because of the evident musical untranslatability of the Friulian texts”. For the author, what is important to emphasize in these translations “is the fact that the two languages ​​were already coexisting and reciprocally alternative at the moment of writing the poetic text, in the bifurcation of the writings that emerged from an original bilingualism”.

In this sense, it would not be paradoxical to state that, in the case of poems in Friulian from 1942 and later, the translated text “is the 'original', the poetic text”, in which the author “affirms a use of the dialect as a 'translation ideal of the Italian'”. In the light of these considerations, the hypothesis could be raised that, for Pasolini, there was a single poetic language, which, on the page, acquired multiple expressions.

*Mariarosaria Fabris is a retired professor at the Department of Modern Letters at FFLCH-USP. Author, among other texts, of “A descampado bathed in moonlight: notes and fragments”, which is part of the volume An intellectual in urgency: Pasolini read in Brazil (Unesp\Unicamp).


BAPTISTA, Miguel. “Jazz poetry” (2009). In: CEIA, Carlos org.). E-dictionary of literary terms. Available in .

BERARDINELLI, Alfonso. “Pasolini, poet character”. In: PASOLINI, Pier Paolo. poems. São Paulo: CosacNaify, 2015.

CADEL, Francesca. La lingua dei desideri: il dialect secondo Pier Paolo Pasolini. Lecce: Manni, 2002.

CONTINI, Gianfranco. “At the limit of dialettale poetry”. Corriere del Ticino, notebook “La pagina letteraria”, Lugano, year IV, n. 9, 24 Apr. 1943., Available at .

FABRIS, Mariarosaria. “Pier Paolo Pasolini: early times”. Magazine of Italian Literature, Florianópolis, v. 2, no. 6, Jun. 2021. Available in .

HUGHES, Langston. “Brass Spittoons”. in The collected works of Langston Hughes (2002). Available in .

LOMBARDI-DIOP, Cristina. “Translating blackness: Langston Hughes in Italy”. In: KUTZINSKI, Vera M.; REED, Anthony (org.). Langston Hughes in context. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversityPress, 2022.

NALDINI, Nico. "Chronology". In: PASOLINI, Pier Paolo. All the poems. Milano: Mondadori, 2003, v. i.

PASOLINI, Pier Paolo. “Dal laboratory (Appunti en poete for a Marxist linguistics)”. In: Heretical empiricism. Milano: Garzanti, 1972.

PASOLINI, Pier Paolo. Poetry to Casarsa. Bologna: Libreria Antiquaria, 1942.

PASOLINI, Pier Paolo. “La rabbia / The rage”. In: poems, cit.

PASOLINI, Pier Paolo. All the poems, cit., v. i.

PICCIONI, Leone. Troppa morte, troppa vita: viaggi e pensieri into the USA. Florence: Vallecchi, 1969.

RIZZOLATTI, Piera. “Pasolini: 'Spiritual'”. Overseas, Udine, n. 10, 2015. Available at .

SANTATO, Guido. “Symbolic paesaggio and poetic paesaggio in Friuli di Pier Paolo Pasolini”.In: EL GHAOUI, Elisa (org). Pier Paolo Pasolini: due to convegni di studio. Pisa-Rome: Fabrizio Serra, 2009.

SITI, Walter et alii. “Note and notizie sui testi”. In: PASOLINI, Pier Paolo. All the poems, cit.


[1] “[Il fanciullo morta]” – “Sera mite all'ultimo barlume, nel fosso / grows l'acqua, una femmina piena / cammina pel campo. // Io ti ricordo, Narciso, tu avevi il colore / della sera, Quero le campane / suonano a morte”.

[2] “Febbraio” – “Senza foglie era l'aria, / canali, pianelli, gelsi… / Si vedevano lontani / i borghi sotto i chiari monti. // Stanco di giocare sull'erba, / nei giorni di febbraio, / mi sedevo qui, bagnato / dal ice dell'aria verde. // Sono tornado di estate. / And in mezzo alla campagna, / che mistero di foglie! / e quanti anni sono passati! // Adesso, ecco febbraio, / canali, pianelli, gelsi… / Mi siedo qui sull'erba, / gli anni sono passati per nulla.”

[3] “Alba” – “O petto svegliato / dal nuovo sole! / The mio broth letto / bagnato di lacrime! // Con un'altra luce / mi sveglio a piangere / i giorni che volano / via come ombre”

[4] “Congedo” – “Ormai essere lontani, Friuli, / vale essere sconosciuti. Pare / il tempo del nostro amore un mare / lucido e morte. // Nella luce la tu parte / è finita, non ho buio nel petto / per tenere la tu ombra”.

[5] “Verrà il vero Cristo” – “Non ho coraggio di avere sogni: / il blu e l'unto della tuta, / non altro nel mio cuore di operaio. // Morto per due soldi, operaio, / il cuore, hai odiato la tuta / e perso i tuoi più veri sogni. // he was a ragazzo che aveva sogni, / un ragazzo blu come la tuta. / Verrà il vero Cristo, operaio, // a insegnarti ad avere veri sogni”.

[6] Translation by Maurício Santana Dias. The other translations from Italian and English are by the author.

[7] “Sospiro di mia madre su una rosa” – “Ti trovo sul lenzuolo / bianco, rosa bianca, / fando il letto a mio figlio, / ti trovo sul lenzuolo. // Rosellina di mio figlio, / dove ti ha raccolta, / perché ti ha raccolta / la mano di mio figlio? // Taci tu, scontrosa, / come lui, che a quest'ora / chissà dov'è, / con la pace delle scontrosa dele. // Come nel grembo del cielo / taci nel suo lenzuolo dele / e quel mio giovane cuore / tace solo sotto il cielo. // Tutte due dimenticate, / la madre e la rosa! / Andando he chissà dove / ci ha dimenticate ”.

[8] “Metal spittoon” – “Clean the spittoon bro. // Detroit, / Chicago, / Atlantic City, / Palm Beach. // Clean the spittoons. // The steam in hotel kitchens, / and the smoke in hotel lobbies, / and the phlegm in hotel spittoons: / part of my life. // Hey bro! // One nickel, / one coin, / one dollar, / two dollars a day. // Hey bro! // A nickel, / a coin, / a dollar, / two dollars / for the child's shoes. // Rent to pay. // Gin on Saturdays, / church on Sundays. // My God! // Children and gin and church / and women on Sundays / all mixed up with pennies and / dollars and clean spittoons / and rent to pay. // Hey bro! // A gleaming metal canopy is beautiful to the Lord. // The polished metal shines like the cymbals / of King David's dancers, / like Solomon's chalices. // Hey bro! // A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord. // A gleaming clean spittoon freshly polished – / that much I can offer. // Come here, bro!”.

[9] “Spiritual” – “Lucida è la falce / nel muschio della corte, / nelle sottane di mia madre della corte, / nelle coscie di cava della corte, / lucida come una stella. // Hey, ragazzo! / I calzoni, / la maglia, / i sandali, / i sandali dell'Angelo. // Hey, ragazzo! / I calzoni, / la maglia, / i sandali. // Trenta lire per il cine, / i ricchi da spiare, / grappa al Sabato, / messa alla Domenica, / Signore! // Cine, grappa e messa, / e donne di Sabato, / tutto mescolato con i calzoni, / la maglia, la falce / ei ricchi da spiare. // Hey, ragazzo! // La mia falce è per i ricchi una stella / dimenticata da migliaia di secoli. / Chi sa il colore degli occhi di un Angelo? / Chi piange il colore della maglia di un garzone? // Hey, ragazzo!”.

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