from ‘The Religion of my time’

by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Yes, of course, he was a God… and others less crazy
and wonderful ones there are. With their priests,
and, I would also say, with their saints.

Poor saints, tormented by well-known
well-known pains, with the terrible duty
to arrive, without too many earthquakes,

at the end of the month, to get back
in their pockets the few desirable liras:
clerks, officials, levers

of a party to live and die for.
Happy to show you a new pair of shoes , a good square
for the righteous citizen?
new pair of shoes, a good square added to the civil

wall of the house, a nice Christmas scarf
for the wife: but inside,
behind that childish throb,

that difficulty, they measure you by the yardstick
of their faith, of their sacrifice.
They are inflexible, they are gloomy,

in their judgement: he who wears the cilice
cannot forgive. You cannot expect a crumb
of mercy from them

not because Marx teaches it,
but because of their god of love,
elementary victory of good over evil,

which is in all their acts. But as in the whiteness
of the aesthetic god of the sea, formless Form,
irrational mixture of joy and pain,

whitens the opacity of chalk, the norm
that devalues… so it reddened in the redness
of the other God – the one who transforms

the world, the future and incorrupt one –
the blood of the days of Stalin…
Nothing adds up. Not even the existential

paradox, in which, fertile-arid,
almost everyone I know is living:
educated bourgeois, experts in essential

infrastructure, spirits of the forest
of worldliness, of culture: to populate
the pure evenings of Piazza del Popolo,

of the new neighbourhoods beyond the old walls,
of the centre where the city slips into
its precious glittering and filthy alleys…

Surrendered genius, with his four bones
under elegant robes, each one carries around
an intent face, where others can

suspect anything; in cafés by day,
in the drawing-rooms in the evening:
but each seeks in vain in the other’s face

a return of ancient hopes: and if he finds any
hope, it is an inadmissable hope, caught
in the circle of supply and demand,

whose gaze is as if in a spasm
of internal wound: which makes one lifeless,
sluggish, discontented, pushing to a strike

of feelings, to a guilty stasis
of conscience, to an insane peace,
that wants our days to be grey and tragic.

So, if I look deep into the souls
of the legions of individuals alive
in my time, whether close to me or not far away,

I see that of the thousand possible sacrileges
that every natural religion
can enumerate, the one that always remains

always, in everyone, is cowardice.
An eternal sentiment – a form
of feeling – fossil, immutable,
which leaves in every other feeling
direct or indirect, its imprint.
It is that cowardice which makes man irreligious.

It is like a deep impediment
that takes away the strength of man’s heart,
warmth to his reasoning,

that makes him think of goodness
as of a pure behaviour,
of pity as a mere rule.

It may make him fierce sometimes,
but it always
makes him prudent: he threatens, judges, mocks, listens,

but he is always, inwardly, afraid.
There is no one who escapes this fear.
No one is therefore really friend or foe.

No one can feel true passion:
His every light is immediately dimmed
as if by resignation or repentance

in that ancient cowardice, in that mysterious hormone
mysterious hormone that has formed over the centuries.
I recognise it, semper, in every man.

I know well that it is nothing but vital insecurity, ancient
vital, ancient economic anguish:
which was the rule of our animal life

and has now been assimilated into these poor communities of ours.
which is defended,
desperate, which lurks where there is

there is a minimum of peace: in possession.
And every possession is the same: from industry
from industry to the field, from the ship to the cart.

Therefore cowardice is equal in all:
as it is in the grey origins or in the last…
grey days of every civilisation…

So my nation has returned to the point
of departure, in the resort of impiety.
And, he who believes in nothing, is aware of it,

and governs it. He has no remorse,
he who believes in nothing, and is a Catholic,
he knows that he is without mercy in the wrong.

Using in blackmails and dishonours
daily provincial assassins,
vulgar to the core,

he wants to kill every form of religion,
under the irreligious pretext of defending it:
wants, in the name of a dead God, to be master.

Here, among these houses, squares, streets filled
of baseness, in this city where this new spirit
has made its home, a spirit that offends

that does not believe – I refuse
now to live. There is no longer anything
beyond nature – in which after all is poured

only the charm of death – nothing
of this human world that I love.
Everything gives me pain: these people

who follow supine every call
by which their masters want them called,
adopting, carelessly, the most infamous

habits of a predestined victim;
the grey of clothes in the grey streets;
the grey gestures in which seems to be printed the

the silence of the evil that invades it;
the swarming around an illusory well-being,
like a flock around a few sheaves of grain;

its regularity of tide, whereby resorts
and deserts alternate in the streets,
ordered by the obsessive ebbs

and anonymous flows of stasis’ demand;
its swarms at dreary bars, at dreary cinemas,
the heart gloomily surrendered to the quia…

And around this internal domain of
of vulgarity, the city that crumbles, huddling,
piling up, Brazilian or Levantine,

like the expansion of a leprosy
that is drunk with death on the layers
of human, Christian or Greek epochs,

and aligns storms of tenements,
gore of bile-coloured lots or vomit,
without sense, neither of distress nor of peace;

the soul at every instant, – with the domes,
the churches, the monuments mute in the disuse
anguish that is the use of men

uproots the restful walls, the poetic elbows
of the alleys on the inner gardens,
the surviving cottages of pumice colouring

or mice, among which figs, radicchios, happily hibernate
the cobblestones streaked with a meagre weed,
the districts that seemed eternal in their

in their almost human features
of grey brick or dull terracotta:
everything desroyed by this vulgar torrent

of the pious owners of lots:
these hearts of dogs, these defiling eyes,
these vile pupils of a corrupt Jesus

in the Vatican salons, in the oratories,
in the antechambers of ministers, in pulpits:
fortified by a people of servants.

How far he has come from the purely
purely interior tumults of his heart
and from the landscape of primroses and virgulae

of maternal Friuli, the sweet-heart
dolceardente of the Catholic Church!
His sacrilegious, but religious love

is no more than a memory, an ars rhetorica:
but it is he who died, not I, of wrath,
of disappointed love, of spasmodic anxiety

for a tradition that is killed every day
every day by those who want to defend it;
and with him died a land blessed with religious

religious light, with its rural clarity of
of fields and cottages; a mother has died,
a mother who is mildness and candour

never disturbed in a time of only evil;
and an era of our existence has died,
that in a world destined to humiliate
was moral light and resistance.

door Pier Paolo Pasolini
vertaald door NKdeE Vertaaldienst


tekstbron: vertaald op 10/11/2021
opgenomen in WEEKBLADEN #58 - gift
vertaling: di 'La Religione del mio tempo' vertaald door NKdeE Vertaaldienst

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