Cesare Pavese


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From the door of his house in the gentle sunshine
the old man, disillusioned with everything,
watches the dog and the bitch as they follow instinct.

Flies crawl round his toothless mouth.
His wife died some time ago. She too
like all bitches didn't want to hear it mentioned,
but she had the instinct. The old man would smell it out -
he hadn't yet lost his teeth - night would come,
they'd go to bed. Instinct was fine.

It's fine for dogs having so much freedom,
prowling the streets from dawn to dusk,
eating a little, sleeping a little, mounting bitches a little:
they don't even wait for night. They reason
as they smell and what they smell is good.

The old man remembers how once in the daytime
he had it in a field of wheat.
Who the bitch was he no longer knows, but remembers
the hot sun and the sweat and his wish it would last for ever.
It was like being in bed. If the years could return
he'd like to do it always in a field of wheat.

A woman comes down the street and stops to watch;
the priest passes and turns away. In the public square
you can do anything. Even the woman,
too discreet to turn round for a man, stops.
Only a boy can't stand the game
and pelts them with stones. The old man's angry.

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Cesare Pavese