I often rely on my friend Max Freeman—a filmmaker, photographer, and exceptionally fine poet himself—to steer me toward poems and poets worth savoring. Last time we met, he pressed me to read Patrizia Cavalli and to start with her “effortless masterpiece” Pigre divinità e pigra sorte. That poem—and, fortunately for my monolingual self, its translation “Lazy Gods, Lazy Fate”—can be found in FSG’s bilingual edition of My Poems Won’t Change the World. Lyrical, lucid, and vaguely reminiscent of something Elena Greco might write, it’s a wonderful and remarkably rereadable poem.
Lazy Gods, Lazy Fate
Lazy gods, lazy fate
what don’t I do to encourage you,
think of the chances I strain to offer you
just so you might appear!
I lay myself bare to you and clear the field
not for me, it’s not in my interest,
just so you might exist I become
an easy visible target. I even give you
a handicap, to you the last move,
I won’t respond, to you that unforeseen
last round, a revelation
of force and grace: if there were to be any merit
it would be yours alone. Because I don’t want
to be the factory of my own fate,
cowardly workmanly virtue
bores me. I had different ambitions, dreamt
of other kinds of judgments, other harmonies: grander
rejections, obscure predilections,
the fringe benefits of undeserved love.
Patrizia Cavalli was born in Todi, Umbria, and now lives in Rome. She has published six collections of poetry: Le mie poesie non cambieranno il mondo; Il cielo (The Sky); Poesie 1974–1992 (Poems); L’io singolare proprio mio (The All Mine Singular I); Sempre aperto teatro (The Forever Open Theater); and Pigre divinità e pigra sorte (Lazy Gods, Lazy Fate). She has also published translations of Shakespeare and Molière.
Sarah Scire is a publicist at FSG.