A Poem From Castelvetere: The American in Castelvetere

For the Castelvetere sul Calore episode of my PBS travel series, I returned to my ancestral hometown 22 years after my mother and I had first laid eyes on it and more than 100 years after my great-grandfather left Castelvetere for America. That day my mother and I arrived in July 1995, we met our distant cousin Livio Nargi, historian, author and poet, and became fast friends. If you’ve seen the episode, Livio opens it with one of his gorgeous poems, his love letter to Castelvetere. He recently sent me two poems he wrote in honor of my most recent return to my ancestral hometown. I am not exaggerating when I say these are one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received and truly capture my love for this rich land. – Kathy McCabe

Also read Livio’s other exquisite poem: Magnificent Woman

The American in Castelvetere
(Magnificent daughter of Castelvetere)
(Desire for her origins)

Goddess of Olympus,
-messenger of beauty-
you travel the world
pushed by the wind,
you sweetly return – to the mysterious call –
of the Land of your Ancestors.

You land, magnificent one,
in the rocky village
-proud dwelling of ancient values-.
Narrow streets,
sweating rocks,
smells of a musky past,
… of burned shackles
… of baked bread;
an echo of faraway voices in a fleeting time,
shades of colors of shadows and sun
on the yellowed walls,
enter into your chest,
and kidnap your heart…

Hosanna we sing to the Heavenly Mother
of Castelvetere in celebration
of the love you bring
and, with it, the knowledge.

To you we offer
-sister of the Earth-
the Irpinian green of our hills,
the bronzed sound of our bells,
the heart-breaking songs of our tired vallies,
the clumps of dirt, wet
from salty drops,
the golden echos of the ripples of grain.

To you we extend the calloused hand
of men marked by the cracks of time,
of strong people
-of rugged Wisdom-.
To you we offer a heart full of love.

Livio Nargi & Mario Senatore

L’americana a Castelvetere
(Magnifica figlia di Castelvetere)
(Voglia di origini)

Dea d’Olimpo,
-messaggera del bello-
Viaggi nel mondo
spinta dal vento,
soave ritorni – al richiamo arcano-
alla Terra degli Avi.

Ti posi, magnifica,
nel petroso Borgo
-fiero ostello di valori antichi-.
Angusti vichi,
pietre sudate,
odori di muschio appassito,
…di ceppi bruciati
…di pane infornato;
eco di voci lontane nel tempo fuggito,
sfumati colori di ombre e di sole
sui muri ingialliti,
ti entrano in petto,
ti rapiscono il cuore…

Osanna cantiamo alla Mamma Celeste
di Castelvetere in festa
per l’amore che porti
e, con esso, il sapere.

A te doniamo
-sorella di Terra-
L’irpino verde delle nostre colline,
il bronzeo suono delle nostre campane,
gli struggenti canti di valligiani stanchi,
le zolle bagnate
da gocce salate,
i riverberi d’oro dell’ondeggiar di grano.

A te porgiamo la mano callosa
di uomini segnati dai solchi del tempo,
di gente forte
-di rocciosa Sapienza-.
A te doniamo il cuore colmo d’amore.

Livio Nargi & Mario Senatore