T. S. Eliot - La Figlia Che Piange

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Published 13 Sep 2011
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T. S. Eliot reads his poem La Figlia Che Piange

La Figlia Che Piange
by T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

O quam te memorem Virgo ... *

Stand on the highest pavement of the stair--
Lean on a garden urn--
Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair--
Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise--
Fling them to the ground and turn
With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:
But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.

So I would have had him leave,
So I would have had her stand and grieve,
So he would have left
As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised,
As the mind deserts the body it has used.
I should find
Some way incomparably light and deft,
Some way we both should understand,
Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand.

She turned away, but with the autumn weather
Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.
And I wonder how they should have been together!
I should have lost a gesture and a pose.
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon's repose.
* Epigraph: How shall I name thee, Maiden? ~ Virgil: Aeneid (I, 327)
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