Blog post

No Tears for the Roses

Nanni Balestrini21 June 2016

No Tears for the Roses

Written during the "hot autumn" of 1969, Nanni Balestrini's poem "Senza lacrime per le rose" was first published in the 1976 collection Poesie Pratiche, 1954-1969. As in Balestrini's novel We Want Everything (published in Italian in 1971) the wave of strikes and political action that would define that season and the attendant development of Operaismo form both the setting and subject of the poem.

"The poem," John Picchione has written, "evinces Balestrini's attention to direct political practice, referring to the social and political violence that, in 1969, followed the student revolts...[it] is constructed through an account of events that shaped that year and through a series of its major slogans."

We present "Senza lacrime per le rose" below, in a new translation by poet and filmmaker Peter Valente, whose translation of Balestrini's long poem
 Blackout will be published by Commune Editions next year.      

In the end, big business and its science won’t be the prizes for the one who wins the class struggle. They are the field on which the battle itself is fought. And for as long as the enemy occupies this ground, we mustn’t hesitate to fire our guns at it, without any tears for the roses.

                                                            Mario Tronti, Workers and Capital



in the dark i

n the

dense fores

the tree pre

fers the cal

m but the wind doesn’t let

up the struggle of

the revolutionary is to

eliminate the

of the class system it’s an ob

jective fact it’s in

dependent of

the will of mankin




logical power of the bourgeoisie

the situation is peace

ful in Turin after the sixteen h

ours of guerilla warfare yes

terday today everything

must be subordinate to

the trees make a lot of noise

at the definition o

f a strateg

fiat did not invent a

nother man say

ing you are

my slav

the great


overthrow of the do




the great ideological trans

gression of this era


its secular justifications

a reality that is sink

ing suddenly into the past


f raging fires automobiles and

the barricades con

structed with wood

en tables s

prayed with tear gas

as the strong arm of the police

moved closer

approaching the barricades then

it was about to start the

and the woods

all around

today everything must be



truth of violence the

violence as

a final reason for everythi

today it’s openly

spoken about

the political reality is


the reality the violence or the


of the oppressed class


and so


for this reason we rebel be

cause we’ve been exploited enoug

completely the old ideo


the culture of the bour

geoisie or the culture of ex

change value


task of the word

is to eli

minate logic the bourgeoisie lo

st its ideological

hegemony in



already played out

the matter

is substantially clear


the old cul

ture and the old w

ays and the costum

endured by all



ploited class

for thousands of years such that



of the people

is poisoned

it’s either cultural u

topia or

nothing will ever be

as before



we want


cars set on fire massive vehicles

lie aslant on the road

ways remnants of the barri

cades timber stolen fr

om construction sites

blackened by flames con

torted traffic lights uprooted

a steamroller



you don’t str

ike down the enemy

overthrown power gen

erators burnt the pavements torn a

part and stones scattered

all over

the place storefronts neon signs

of businesses smashed frames


you strike the enemy of the classes

destroyed automobiles or the

burnt plate glass windows of

the entranceways to tenement buildings

collapsed after being bom

barded with stones

shipyards devastated and fences

consumed by flames

piles of stones fragments

of cement pipes

and the trees

all around

the enemy of the classes will not fall



the definition of a


the in

version of a po

litical line from 20 years dominat

at the moment when the


class took control of

its own organization

and the politics of the strug

the word


transformed into a social insti

tution it achieves with dis

cipline its

the trees make a lot of noise

balanced functions guaran

tee order it’s every

where within this


but cre

ate shape and in

the struggle

a word and a wor

d but mat

erial practice cre

ated in the

masses in the struggle

to form n

ew cus


and new

- Nanni Balestrini's We Want Everything: A Novel is out now and 50% off until June 28th as part of our Summer Reads.

Peter Valente is the author of A Boy Asleep Under the Sun: Versions of Sandro Penna  (Punctum Books, 2014),which was nominated for a Lambda award, The Artaud Variations (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014), Let the Games Begin: Five Roman Writers (Talisman House, 2015), a book of photography, Street Level (Spuyten Duyvil, 2016), and the chapbook, Forge of Words a Forest (Jensen Daniels, 1998). He is the co-translator of the chapbook, Selected Late Letters of Antonin Artaud, 1945-1947 (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2014), which includes six of Artaud’s letters, and has translated the work of Luis Cernuda, Gérard de Nerval, Cesare Viviani, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, as well as numerous Ancient Greek and Latin authors. Forthcoming is a second book of photography entitled Blue Book (Spuyten Duyvil, 2016), and a translation of Nanni Balestrini’s Blackout (Commune Editions, 2017). In early 2019, City Lights will publish all 33 of Artaud’s late letters with an introduction by Stephen Barber. His poems, essays, and photographs have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as Mirage #4/Periodical, First Intensity, Aufgabe, Talisman, Oyster Boy Review, and SpoKe. His work has also been published or is forthcoming online in Talisman, The Poems and Poetics Blog, Oyster Boy Review, Jacket2, Sibilia, The Recluse, and Dispatches From the Poetry Wars.  In the late 1990s, he co-edited the poetry magazines Vapor/Strains and Lady Blizzard’s Batmobile and wrote articles on jazz for the Edgewater Reporter. In 2010, he turned to filmmaking and has completed 60 shorts to date, 24 of which were screened at Anthology Film Archives. 

Filed under: italy, literature, poetry, summerreads2016