From “The Poet OF Two Lands,” Native Of Apulia" Quartetto Garganico by Joseph Tusiani

Joseph Tusiani (July 21, 2016)
On this page we offer four short poems by Joseph Tusiani, the “Poet of Two Lands” renowned worldwide for writing in four languages – English, Italian, Latin and Pugliese dialect. Recently honored as New York State Poet Laureate Emeritus by Governor Andrew Cuomo, “in recognition of contributions to the international literary community,” Joseph is above all someone I am enormously proud to call a friend (L.A.)


Swallows swallows everywhere,

and not only in the air

but now also on the ground

to be graciously around.

Look at some of them right here

in my street and near my home,

hopping happy, maybe looking

for some welcome easy crumb.

One of them comes closer closer

not for food as I surmise

but perhaps to bring to me

just its precious company.

But can such a thing be true

that a creature of the skies

is not only down on earth

but is eager now to be

just with me and only me?

Welcome, welcome, little bird,

and be not at all afraid.

It is I who strongly fear

that, if only I come near,

you will quickly fly away,

thinking wrongly—God forbid—

I don’t want you here to stay.

Little bird, what did I do

that so fast away you flew?

I was just about to tell you

that your hopping I enjoy.

It reminds me of the time

when, like any healthy boy,

I would run and sing and play.

But a more important thing,

little bird, I would have said:

“Promise me to come right back,

to come often back to me

just to keep me company.”




Non come noi, han secoli gli ulivi,

fissi contorti nella dura scorza

che ne cattura la forza. Privi

sono gli ulivi di mollezze lievi

e stagionali appariscenze rare,

nati a restar come restano gli evi.

Sono gli ulivi della terra mia,

sono la terra mia stessa, riarsa,

fiera e ferrigna e feconda e forte

nella calura maligna, e gentile

nella breve frescura mattinale

che nell’ora serale è lieta sorte.



Me mpaccesse

pe qquessi



che vvòlene nturne

tuttu lu jurne.

Nu mare de vote

l’ej viste recòte

come na squatra

sope lu campanare

‘la Cchjesia Matra.

Ma joje me pare

che vvonne dice

propia accuscì:

“Sinte, Peppì,

non t’avvelenne.

Li male venne,

venne e vvanne.

Lu jurne àdda menì—

ma crìdece, Peppì—

quanne pure tu,

vu’ o no vvu’,

cu ttutte lu bbone,

ha’ lenzà ssu bastone

e, cchjù de prima,

àda fà rima

cu vvucelle

e ccose bbelle.”



Montis imago tenet mentem, tenet omnia nota

Atque ignota meae vitae quae monte creatast.

Durae sunt cautes qui stant in pectore sensus

Ac durissima nunc et semper praefero verba.

Sum petreus sicut mons ille, tenax quoque vivo

Ut vivit ventus per viva cacumina spirans.

Sum qui sum, vir montanus de rupibus altus,

Cortex rugosus, lignum pluviis obsistens.

Atqui cur, mihi dicite, cur coram indice lucis

Matutinae sum mollis mitisque poeta?