The Scientific Indian

To My Friends, a poem by Primo Levi

A poem from the book I am reading at present. The Mirror Maker by Primo Levi. I had an epiphany few weeks back–an epiphany that I was unable to describe–, an epiphany that I have now found the words for in Levi’s lucid poem: ‘between us, for at least a moment, was drawn a segment, a well-defined chord.’ It is a privilege to live in this maelstrom of a world where one has Levi, a fellow human, friend, who carried and still carries, with his immortal words, the torch that illuminates the darkest corners of human history and experience.


To My Friends
Dear friends, I say friends here
In the larger sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates, men and women,
Persons seen only once
Or frequented all my life:
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
Was drawn a segment,
A well-defined chord.
I speak for you, companions on a journey
Dense, not devoid of effort,
And also for you who have lost
The soul, the spirit, the wish to live;
Or nobody or somebody, or perhaps only one, or you
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When each of us was like a seal.
Each of us carries the imprint
Of a friend met along the way;
In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or in folly
Everyone stamped by each.

Now that the time presses urgently,
And the tasks are finished,
To all of you the modest wish
That autumn will be long and mild.