One of the poems in John P. Portelli's poetry collection "In Between: Malta and Canada" (freely available online from the author's website, page 91) is the short poem "The Past and the Present", or "Il-Passat u l-Preżent" in the original Maltese. The translation contains the following lines:

till the Wouth Wind of lie
brining the remains to the surface

First of all, "Wouth" is a typo, as the introduction by Oliver Friggieri mentions this poem and has it as "South Wind of lie". (Is "brining" also a typo for "bringing", or, unlikely, is it some kind of wordplay based on the meaning of "brine" as a verb for soaking in salt water?) More importantly, what is connoted by "the South Wind of lie"? What does "of lie" mean - does it suggest some kind of untruth about the South Wind, and how would that connect with its role in bringing the past to the present? Does the South Wind have some particular significance in Maltese culture? (I tried to search for "south wind of lie" but the only result found on the web was this very poem.)


1 Answer 1


I think "lie" means "untruth" here, but not about the wind, about the past. The poem starts:

The past
is like a cloud by the wind affrighted
vanishing into air

My interpretation: the past fades from our memory and we can't remember until we make up a story (a lie) about it, and incorporate it into a coherent narrative, that relates to the present and that we can remember, but which also isn't entirely correct.

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