had stayed up all night, my friends and I, under hanging
mosque lamps with domes of filigreed brass, domes starred like
our spirits, shining like them with the prisoned radiance of electric
hearts. For hours we had trampled our atavistic ennui into rich
oriental rugs, arguing up to the last confines of logic and blackening
many reams of paper with our frenzied scribbling.
An immense pride was buoying us up,
because we felt ourselves alone at that hour, alone, awake, and
on our feet, like proud beacons or forward sentries against an
army of hostile stars glaring down at us from their celestial
Alone with stokers feeding the hellish fires of great ships, alone
with the black spectres who grope in the red-hot bellies of locomotives
launched on their crazy courses, alone with drunkards reeling
like wounded birds along the city walls.
we jumped, hearing the mighty noise of the huge double-decker
trams that rumbled by outside, ablaze with colored lights, like
villages on holiday suddenly struck and uprooted by the flooding
Po and dragged over falls and through gourges to the sea.
Then the silence deepened.
But, as we listened to the old canal muttering its feeble prayers
and the creaking bones of sickly palaces above their damp green
beards, under the windows we suddenly heard the famished roar
go!" I said. "Friends, away! Let's go!
Mythology and the Mystic Ideal are defeated at last. We're about
to see the Centaur's birth and, soon after, the first flight of
Angels!... We must shake at the gates of life, test the bolts
and hinges. Let's go! Look there, on the earth, the very first
dawn! There's nothing to match the splendor of the sun's red sword,
slashing for the first time through our millennial gloom!"
went up to the three snorting beasts, to lay amorous
hands on their torrid breasts.
I stretched out on my car like a corpse on its bier, but revived
at once under the steering wheel, a guillotine blade that threatened
raging broom of madness swept us out of ourselves and
drove us through streets as rough and deep as the beds of torrents.
Here and there, sick lamplight through window glass taught us
to distrust the deceitful mathematics of our perishing eyes.
cried, "The scent, the scent alone is enough for our beasts."
like young lions we ran after Death, its dark pelt blotched with
pale crosses as it escaped down the vast violet living and throbbing
we had no ideal Mistress raising her divine form to
the clouds, nor any cruel Queen to whom to offer our bodies, twisted
like Byzantine rings!
There was nothing to make us wish for death, unless the wish to
be free at last from the weight of our courage!
on we raced, hurling watchdogs against doorsteps, curling
them under our burning tires like collars under a flatiron. Death,
domesticated, met me at every turn, gracefully holding out a paw,
or once in a while hunkering down, making velvety caressing eyes
at me from every puddle.
break out of the horrible shell of wisdom and throw
ourselves like pride-ripened fruit into the wide, contorted mouth
of the wind! Let's give ourselves utterly to the Unknown, not
in desperation but only to replenish the deep wells of the Absurd!"
words were scarcely out of my mouth when I spun my
car around with the frenzy of a dog trying to bite its tail, and
there, suddenly, were two cyclists coming towards me, shaking
their fists, wobbling like two equally convincing but nevertheless
contradictory arguments. Their stupid dilemma was blocking my
way-Damn! Ouch!... I stopped short and to my disgust rolled over
into a ditch with my wheels in the air...
maternal ditch, almost full of muddy water! Fair factory
drain! I gulped down your nourishing sludge; and I remembered
the blessed black beast of my Sudanese nurse... When I came up-torn,
filthy, and stinking-from under the capsized car, I felt the white-hot
iron of joy deliciously pass through my heart!
crowd of fishermen with handlines and gouty naturalists
were already swarming around the prodigy. With patient, loving
care those people rigged a tall derrick and iron grapnels to fish
out my car, like a big beached shark. Up it came from the ditch,
slowly, leaving in the bottom, like scales, its heavy framework
of good sense and its soft upholstery of comfort.
thought it was dead, my beautiful shark, but a caress
from me was enough to revive it; and there it was, alive again,
running on its powerful fins!
And so, faces smeared with good factory muck-plastered with metallic
waste, with senseless sweat, with celestial soot-we, bruised,
our arms in slings, but unafraid, declared our high intentions
to all the living of the earth:
1 We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and
audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.
3 Up to now
literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep.
We intend to exalt aggresive action, a feverish insomnia, the
racer's stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
4 We affirm
that the world's magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty:
the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great
pipes, like serpents of explosive breath-a roaring car that seems
to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
5 We want
to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit
across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.
6 The poet
must spend himself with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell
the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
7 Except in
struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive
character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a
violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them
8 We stand
on the last promontory of the centuries!... Why should we look
back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors
of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live
in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent
9 We will
glorify war-the world's only hygiene-militarism, patriotism, the
destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth
dying for, and scorn for woman.
10 We will
destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will
fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.
11 We will
sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot;
we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution
in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor
of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons;
greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories
hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that
stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with
a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon;
deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the
hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek
flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners
and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.
It is from Italy that we launch through the world this violently
upsetting incendiary manifesto of ours
With it, today, we establish Futurism, because we want to free
this land from its smelly gangrene of professors, archaeologists,
ciceroni and antiquarians. For too long has Italy been a dealer
in second-hand clothes. We mean to free her from the numberless
museums that cover her like so many graveyards.
cemeteries!... Identical, surely, in the sinister promiscuity
of so many bodies unknown to one another. Museums: public dormitories
where one lies forever beside hated or unknown beings. Museums:
absurd abattoirs of painters and sculptors ferociously slaughtering
each other with color-blows and line-blows, the length of the
one should make an annual pilgrimage, just as one goes
to the graveyard on All Souls' Day-that I grant. That once a year
one should leave a floral tribute beneath the Gioconda, I grant
you that... But I don't admit that our sorrows, our fragile courage,
our morbid restlessness should be given a daily conducted tour
through the museums. Why poison ourselves? Why rot?
what is there to see in an old picture except the laborious
contortions of an artist throwing himself against the barriers
that thwart his desire to express his dream completely?... Admiring
an old picture is the same as pouring our sensibility into a funerary
urn instead of hurtling it far off, in violent spasms of action
you, then, wish to waste all your best powers in this
eternal and futile worship of the past, from which you emerge
fatally exhausted, shrunken, beaten down?
truth I tell you that daily visits to museums,
libraries, and academies (cemeteries of empty exertion, Calvaries
of crucified dreams, registries of aborted beginnings!) are, for
artists, as damaging as the prolonged supervision by parents of
certain young people drunk with their talent and their ambitious
wills. When the future is barred to them, the admirable past may
be a solace for the ills of the moribund, the sickly, the prisoner...
But we want no part of it, the past, we the young and strong Futurists!
let them come, the gay incendiaries with charred fingers!
Here they are! Here they are!... Come on! set fire to the library
shelves! Turn aside the canals to flood the museums!... Oh, the
joy of seeing the glorious old canvases bobbing adrift on those
waters, discolored and shredded!... Take up your pickaxes, your
axes and hammers and wreck, wreck the venerable cities, pitilessly!
oldest of us is thirty: so we have at least a decade
for finishing our work. When we are forty, other younger and stronger
men will probably throw us in the wastebasket like useless manuscripts-we
want it to happen!
will come against us,
our successors, will come from far away, from every quarter, dancing
to the winged cadence of their first songs, flexing the hooked
claws of predators, sniffing doglike at the academy doors the
strong odor of our decaying minds, which will have already been
promised to the literary catacombs.
we won't be there... At last they'll find us-one winter's
night-in open country, beneath a sad roof drummed by a monotonous
rain. They'll see us crouched beside our trembling aeroplanes
in the act of warming our hands at the poor little blaze that
our books of today will give out when they take fire from the
flight of our images.
storm around us, panting with scorn and anguish, and
all of them, exasperated by our proud daring, will hurtle to kill
us, driven by a hatred the more implacable the more their hearts
will be drunk with love and admiration for us.
strong and sane, will break out radiantly in their eyes.
Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.
oldest of us is thirty:
even so we have already scattered treasures, a thousand treasures
of force, love, courage, astuteness, and raw will-power; have
thrown them impatiently away, with fury, carelessly, unhesitatingly,
breathless, and unresting... Look at us! We are still untired!
Our hearts know no weariness because they are fed with fire, hatred,
and speed!... Does that amaze you? It should, because you can
never remember having lived! Erect on the summit of the world,
once again we hurl our defiance at the stars!
have objections?-Enough! Enough! We know them... We've
understood!... Our fine deceitful intelligence tells us that we
are the revival and extension of our ancestors-Perhaps!... If
only it were so!-But who cares? We don't want to understand!...
Woe to anyone who says those infamous words to us again!
up your heads!
on the summit of the world, once again we hurl defiance to the