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Campo di Fiori

Written by: Czeslaw Milosz | Biography
 In Rome on the Campo di Fiori
Baskets of olives and lemons,
Cobbles spattered with wine
And the wreckage of flowers.
Vendors cover the trestles With rose-pink fish; Armfuls of dark grapes Heaped on peach-down.
On this same square They burned Giordano Bruno.
Henchmen kindled the pyre Close-pressed by the mob.
Before the flames had died The taverns were full again, Baskets of olives and lemons Again on the vendors' shoulders.
I thought of the Campo dei Fiori In Warsaw by the sky-carousel One clear spring evening To the strains of a carnival tune.
The bright melody drowned The salvos from the ghetto wall, And couples were flying High in the cloudless sky.
At times wind from the burning Would driff dark kites along And riders on the carousel Caught petals in midair.
That same hot wind Blew open the skirts of the girls And the crowds were laughing On that beautiful Warsaw Sunday.
Someone will read as moral That the people of Rome or Warsaw Haggle, laugh, make love As they pass by martyrs' pyres.
Someone else will read Of the passing of things human, Of the oblivion Born before the flames have died.
But that day I thought only Of the loneliness of the dying, Of how, when Giordano Climbed to his burning There were no words In any human tongue To be left for mankind, Mankind who live on.
Already they were back at their wine Or peddled their white starfish, Baskets of olives and lemons They had shouldered to the fair, And he already distanced As if centuries had passed While they paused just a moment For his flying in the fire.
Those dying here, the lonely Forgotten by the world, Our tongue becomes for them The language of an ancient planet.
Until, when all is legend And many years have passed, On a great Campo dci Fiori Rage will kindle at a poet's word.



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