Wednesday, June 17, 2020


In the Beginning

Fellow humans, to whom a year is a long time,

A century a venerable goal,

Struggling for your bread,

Tired, fretful, tricked, sick lost:

Listen, and may it be mockery and consolation.

Twenty billion years before now,

Brilliant, soaring in space and time,

There was a ball of flame, solitary, eternal,

Our common father and our executioner,

It exploded, and every change began.

Even now the thin echo of this one reverse catastrophe

Resounds from the farthest reaches.

From that one spasm everything was born:

The same abyss that enfolds and challenges us,

The same time that spawns and defeats us,

Everything anyone has ever thought,

The eyes of every woman we have loved,

Suns by the thousands

And this hand that writes.

13 August 1970


Primo Levi
Collected Poems
translated by Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann
Faber & Faber