Francesco Biamonti

Lou pastre

Clouds… the clouds seems like an approaching flock of sheep and sacred are the gestures with which the shepherd wearing a blue hat holds his dog. Both the shepherd and the dog look puzzlingly at each other. They stare with sad eyes, eyes of peers, with the loneliness of regulars on the summit where wind blows from morning to evening. Then, after a greeting, the shepherd asks where he comes from («d’ounte venés?») and if there was any grass down in the olive groves, «dins lou terrain oundado». This almost old and almost sacred man explained that he had walked all night to fall, to escape the snow air (l’auro de nèu), enemy to those who had all of his possessions in blood, in blood of god. He spoke in a strange Provençal sing-song, with the cadence of the Maritime Alps: a treble sounding like sobs followed by a decreasing and shuffling, sweet lullaby.

[…] Gregory invited him to descend into the trees, both of which were abandoned: they could do not harm. But, the shepherd refused his hand. The farmers did not like «lou pastre», he added. To the shepherd, to «lou pastre», he said resignedly, were destined only the rubble and the thin soils, or the rocky beaches of the seas, where the grass grew stringy and tough bushes liked by no beast. What a strange chant. A ringing tone followed by lower and longer tons. He barely knew. But to whom was he speaking? He seemed to speak to the angels or to himself. He had a shoulder bag and a cane, and suddenly slipped off the cane to leave. He went slowly but surely as the ancient bearers of salt, and perhaps upon their same track. It was preceded from goats and sheep in droves. It went slowly, but it is in the midst of all of god’s blood where life moves. He disappeared over the ridge up to his waist, then up to his shoulders, then everything. He places the other hand, in the Gerbidi rocks, in thickets of mastic. It was inexorable. He did not take empty turns, nor left, like a sailor, besieged by the dream. In the cloud, in the snow or in the blue (dins la bluiour) the life of all that blood urges.

From: The Angel of Avrigue, Einaudi, 1983.

Francesco Biamonti

Writer (San Biagio della Cima 1928-2001), came to literary prominence at the age of 50, the setting for most of his novels is the Ligurian hinterland of Ponente. In Parole e la notte (1998), his best work, Biamonti described the encounter between Liguria and Provenace, through the interweaving of experiences and traditions that reflect the rishness of both cultures.

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