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By a crumbling wall, pale and withdrawn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
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.
Their work and discoveries range from the formation of black holes and genetic scissors to efforts to combat hunger and develop new auction formats.
See them all presented here.