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The Nobel Prize in Literature 1975
Eugenio Montale

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Poetry

 

The Wall

To lie in shadow on the lawn
By a crumbling wall, pale and withdrawn
And spy in the weeds the gliding snake
And hear the rustle blackbirds make –

To watch in the cracked earth and the grass
Battalions of red ants at drill,
That break and form ranks, pass and repass
In busy marches on some tiny hill –

To catch, each time the leaves blow free,
The faint and pulsing motion of the sea,
While ceaseless, tremulous and shrill,
The cicadas chatter on the bald hill –

Rising, to wander in bewilderment
With the sun's dazzle, and the sorry thought
How all our life, and all its labors spent,
Are like a man upon a journey sent
Along a wall that's sheer and steep and
     endless, dressed
With bits of broken bottles on its crest.

 

"The Wall" By Eugenio Montale, translated by Maurice English, from SELECTED POEMS, copyright ©1965 by New Directions Publishing Corp.

Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Excerpt selected by the Nobel Library of the Swedish Academy.

 

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MLA style: "Eugenio Montale - Poetry: The Wall". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 2 Sep 2014. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1975/montale-poetry.html>

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