Time that today sleeps within your heart

Il_tempo_che_oggi_ti_dorme_nel_cuore_Cover - CopiaTime that today sleeps within your heart

A collection of poems

by Maria Amata Di Lorenzo

(published in Italy by Portosicuro Editore -print edition / ebook edition of April 2016)  

not yet available in English


‘At the age of six, I happened to live with my family in a solitary lighthouse on top of the promontory of Capo d’Orlando, looking out over the Aeolian islands.’

Thus began the story of the childhood of Turi Vasile. It was one early summer day of 1993, I remember, and his story, with its fairytale-esque tone, halfway between prose recounting everyday life and the narration of memory, immediately captivated me.

I lived at that time not far from the place where he, already advanced in his years, continued to work with youthful enthusiasm, an Art Nouveau villa in the Roman neighbourhood of Montesacro. In that villa, which I could reach by foot in less than five minutes, as it was just round the corner from my house in the square of Piazza Sempione, I often heard him tell such stories of his life in Sicily, his ‘first life’, interrupted by his move to the capital at the age of eighteen.

In Rome, another story began, the story of a man, an intellectual who lived the twentieth century in the name of art, gradually expressed in a variety of different ways. Turi Vasile, born in Messina in 1922 and died in Rome in 2009, was a writer, director, screenwriter, playwright and filmmaker, and also took a keen interest in radio and television journalism.

He was, for me, the child that I narrate in these micro-stories in verse, a child islander who, through pain and hope, victory and tears, learns a little at a time to become a man.

He is a man who will later find his human and professional achievement far from his native Sicily, the bitter fate of many islanders! But he will always be inextricably bound to his homeland, with his insular heart and his indefatigable capacity of educating himself in life through the daily discipline of pain.

‘At the age of six, I happened to live with my family in a solitary lighthouse on top of the promontory of Capo d’Orlando, looking out over the Aeolian islands.’

Everything starts from here, from this fairytale lighthouse of yesterday, and leads to days of expectation and dreams, secret emotions and continuous discoveries, where, as a child, he is gripped by a fear of the wind, of its terrible voice, and of the power of the elements, on that strip of land, suspended between the sky and the sea, at that solitary signalling post of Capo d’Orlando.

There are days when, as a teenager, he comes down with the terrible island disease, the ‘glaze’, a dark vertigo of blood pulsing in his veins, that, as an adult, he will know how to dull with the melancholy of memory.

There are days when nothing exceptional happens, simply life, the natural coming and going of day and night, the geometric alternation of the seasons, and this is already quite something.

There are days when life is two-faced and dreams have the same substance as reality. That visionary fantasy that, as a child, kept him in the house, devoured by a spasmodic anxiety for knowledge, reading and daydreaming of his future, as a man, he would translate into fabulous creations. That imagination, returning to lost days of yesterday, would open wide the belief in secret perfumes of an island in the form of a heart.

This collection of poems was published independently in 1994 under the title of ‘Sicilian Notebook’. A poetic pamphlet distributed only among friends, ‘insiders’, writers and intellectuals, who read these verses and judged them favourably. Now these verses, dear readers, I offer to you, with the same love and I thank you for making place in your hearts for them.

Maria Amata Di Lorenzo