“What I highly value” by Erri de Luca

November 9, 2012

Erri De Luca (1950) is an Italian novelist, translator and  poet. He is selftaught in several languages including Ancient Hebrew and Yiddish. De Luca is also a passionate mountain climber. “The Weight of the Butterfly” is one of his books I thoroughly enjoyed reading and that illustrates beautifully this facet of Erri de Luca.

I feel like sharing with you in pictures some lines of one of his poems : “Considero Valore” or “What I highly value” :

“I highly value any form of life, snow,

a strawberry, a fly,

the mineral kingdom,

the constellation of stars.

I highly value wine, for the time of the meal,

An unvoluntary smile,

I highly value the tiredness of someone who did not spare one’s efforts,

and two elder persons in love.

I highly value all that will not be valuable tomorrow and all that has not yet  much value today.

I highly value all kinds of pains,
I highly value sparing water,

repairing a pair of shoes and

keeping silent when needed,

Rushing up to the first cry, asking permission before sitting, feeling grateful without even knowing why.

I  highly value knowing where the North is in a room, the name of the wind that dries the laundry,

The travel of a vagabond, the nun’s fence,

The patience of the condemned man, no matter the wrong,

I highly value the use of the verb “to love”, Amore,

and the hypothesis there is a Creator

Many of those values, I have not known.”

“Oeuvres sur l’eau et autres poésies, 2002”

Erri de Luca


Quote about books :

“I read old books because pages that have been turned many times and that bear the marks of fingers have more weight for the eyes, because each copy of a book may belong to several lives.

Books should remain free, unattended in public spaces so that they would travel with passers-by who would take them for a while and read them.  Then books should die like their readers, used by sorrows, contaminated, drowned, put inside a stove during  Winter, torn apart by children to make little paper boats. Briefly said, books should die in any way but not because of boredom and  privately owned, sentenced to life on a shelf”.

Erri de Luca

23 Responses to ““What I highly value” by Erri de Luca”

  1. Carsten said

    Very nice work Isabelle.
    Your beautiful pictures enhances Erri de Lucas’ fine poem. And his words surely emphasises the mood and expression in your images.
    A comment on the last photo: Have you read ‘After Dark’? I’m very fond of Murakamis universe, and is just about to finish reading 1Q84.

    • How nice to read you, Carsten, thank you very much for your words. Yes, I read “After Dark”, one of my favourite books by Murakami. Like you I am fond of his universe and 1Q84 is on my reading list. How did you like it ?

  2. sybil said

    I highly value blog posts like this.

  3. Kathy said

    So lovely, Isa! I highly valued this whole post, but my favorite line is: I highly value all that will not be valuable tomorrow and all that has not yet much value today. The photo of the woman with hand to face is wonderful. As is the scarf in the wind. The small things which we might pass by inadvertently…

    • Good morning Kathy and thank you for your words. You are so right about mentioning “the small things which we might pass by” and this is how I understand the line you prefer. Elena, the old woman on the picture, is certainly a person who went through life appreciating highly all small things of a of full and not always easy life; she passed about one month ago at 94.

      • Kathy said

        She was so beautiful!

      • fanfoulon said

        Even 96, Isa. Elena was playing the violin and she has been working in the family’s vineyards until 87. She brought up three sons, who she used to call “my three bears” (« I miei tre orsi ») There was « l’orso maggiore, l’orso medio e l’orso minore ». This is the origine of the story : one day, at the baker’s, other mothers were extolling the merits of their children.
        May be by modesty, may be because she wanted to hide her pride as a mother, may be she wanted to make fun of the other mothers or just because she had a fantastic sense of humor, when asked how many children she had, she replied : “Ho tre orsi”. (I have three bears)

  4. Gerry said

    The photographic images make the lines of the poem glimmer – light playing on water. “Many of those values, I have not known” brought me up short. More and more I find that things that make perfect sense to me are nonetheless mysterious. It’s sort of like living in Murakami’s imagination for extended periods.

    I will be interested to learn what you think of 1Q84 – and in what language you choose to read it.

    • Hello dear Gerry and thank you for your words that made me think a lot. I share your view about the mystery of certain things that apparently make sense. As if they had always been known and felt and yet remained a mystery. Murakami’s imagination is a good example for this. I will certain share my thoughts about 1Q84. I have always read him in English, I think I may switch to French. His way of navigating between reality and imagination needs a deep understanding I do not always possess in English.

      • Gerry said

        Sometimes I think Murakami’s work requires a certain linguistic flexibility – as if all of it must be comprehended in the space between the words and their meanings. It’s like jazz. Or perhaps not – I do not always possess a deep understanding in any language, but on I struggle.

  5. Isabelle said

    Gerry, thanks again for your thoughts about Murakami’s work. I like this idea of comprehending his writings “in the space between the words and their meaning”. Freeing imagination. Comparing it to jazz is excellent !

  6. Isabelle said

    fanfoulon…so nice to find you here, thank you for telling us more about Elena and her sense of humour, her musical talent and her three bears ;)She will be remembered always.

  7. Marie said

    Just lovely…the words are so inspirational. Makes me want to take
    out a pen and paper and write words of poetry.
    Your pictures are beautiful!

  8. lola said

    beautiful and poetic post Isabelle. i love the photos, specially the old silent woman, the snow and De Luca’s poem. It makes think in the things i highly value too. one of them: feeling grateful without knowing why!
    love murakami. i think he’s writing is absorbing and brave; a profound observer, but in the end, doesn’t live any sustance on me.

    • Thanks a lot for your words, lola. I do share your thoughts about feeling grateful without knowing why. This morning as I opened the shutters there was this golden birchtree in the garden, surrounded by a carpet of yellow and rusty leaves lit up the the sun: I did feel grateful for being able to see and enjoy this sight. One picture made me think of you : the small kids sitting on a bench : it was after a long visit of the Gardens of the Alhambra. They were as exhausted as I was 😉
      I had some trouble entering Murakami’s world at first. But then I got caught by his imagination, deep sense of reality too and unique characters and now I enjoy thoroughly his books.

  9. shoreacres said

    Isa, the poem is wonderful, and as always your images complement it beautifully. I was much taken with the line about “keeping silent when needed”, and also his final declaration, “Many of those values I have not known”. To appreciate what we long for, yet do not possess – that is perhaps the greatest, albeit poignant, gift.

    But, my~! Don’t I love his words about books even more! I think Mr. De Luca is one who could stand before a bookshelf and hear the tiny voices calling, “Choose me! Choose me!”

    • Isabelle said

      Linda, I am so glad you mentioned the lines that touched you most in E. de Luca’s poem. Some were a bit mysterious to me, now I see more clearly what he meant… “many of those values I have not known.

      I simply loved the idea of standing before a bookshelf and listening to the various voices of books asking for being chosen. E. de Luca would love this image. He made a comment on this post, I will ask my sister to translate it from the Italian in English. I read somewhere that “Books do not exist until they are read”. Thanks a lot for your inspiring comments, always.

  10. Giiid said

    This poem is beautiful, and full of meaning, and together with your lovely photos it is a very giving post. I will read it again, and look for more. Thank you Isa, you are so good at this mix of words / photos / colors / art…

    • Isabelle said

      Thanks Birgitte, I am glad that my way of sharing this poem pleased you. It was just my own vision of it, maybe you would have done a completely different presentation ? Other verses ? Plenty of colours 😉

  11. Beautiful, Isabelle. Love how you combined the photos with the poem- great idea 🙂

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