Sibilla Alermo: Yes, to the Earth

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Sibilla Alermo (1876-1960) was an Italian poet, writer and feminist who was raped as a young woman and forced to marry her rapist because she was pregnant by him.  She suffered  the yoke of a domestic war.  Courageously, she ran away in 1902 to Rome.  there, a woman alone, she wrote and published the first feminist novel of Italian literature, Una Donna, describing the imprisonment of a wife by her husband's violent will.  The novel became an international success.  Alermo worked hard to alleviate the labor conditions of Roman workers.  She wrote several more novels and in 1921 began to publish poetry.

In 1908, she met Cordula "Lina" Poletti at a women's congress, and their one-year lesbian relationship formed the basis for the novel Il passaggio. Poletti was described as being beautiful and rebellious, and was prone to wear men's clothing. She is sometimes credited with being one of the first women in Italy to openly flaunt her lesbianism. Poletti would later become involved with actress Eleanora Duse.

Sibilla Aleramo would go on to be one of Italy's leading feminists. Her personal writings to Poletti have, in more recent years, been studied due to their open minded views toward homosexual relationships. While Aleramo was involved with Poletti she was also in love with a man, Giovanni Cena. Aleramo expresses in her letters to Poletti that she never felt guilt for having loved both of them at the same time.

In later life Aleramo toured the continent and was active in Communist politics after World War II. The 2002 film Un Viaggio Chiamato Amore depicts Aleramo's affair with writer Dino Campana.

Sources: Women on War, edited by Daniela Gioseffi and Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibilla_Aleramo

 

Yes, to the Earth

So shines the Earth in certain mornings' light

with its roses and cypresses

or with its grain and its olives,

 

so sunddenly does it shine on the soul

and isolates it and makes it forget everything

even if an instant earlier the soul

was suffering to the quick or meditating, bitter,

 

so shines the Earth in certain mornings' light

and in its silence reveals itself,

a marvelous lump spinning from the skies,

and, beautiful in its tragic solitude, so laughs

 

that the soul, although not asked,

answers, "Yes,' "Yes," to the Earth,

to the indifferent Earth, "Yes,"

even if in an instant the skies and the roses

and the cypresses should turn dark,

or the labor of living be made more burdensome

and breathing yet more heroic.

 

"Yes," the subjegated sould answers the Earth,

so does it shine in certain mornings' light,

beautiful over all things and human hope.

 

Translated by Murel Kittel

 

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