L’evoluzione biologica
ha un passo cosi lento che a quel metro
la lumaca è un fulmine.
C’è voluta non so che iradiddio
prima che fosse nato l’archetipo di un bipede.
Non è questo lo strano; lo strano è
che tutto ciò sembri lungimiranza.
Bisognerà trovare un altro nome
per spiegare l’arcano.

—Eugenio Montale

 

Biological evolution
proceeds so slowly that at its pace
the snail is lightning.
I don’t know what scourge it took
before the archetype of a biped was born.
That’s not what’s strange; what’s strange
is that it all looks like farsightedness.
We’ll have to find another name
to explain the arcane.

—translated by Jonathan Galassi

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 2 Number 10, on page 47
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