Franz Kafka

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

"The Huntsman," (Егерь), by Anton Chekhov, from the Collection: "Motley Stories" (Пёстрые рассказы), 1886," by Anton Chekhov (Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов). Full text in English

Illustration by the "Kukryniksy." (1954)

A SULTRY, stifling midday. Not a cloud let in the sky.... The sun-baked grass had a disconsolate, hopeless look: even if there were rain it could never be green again.... The forest stood silent, motionless, as though it were looking at something with its tree-tops or expecting something.

At the edge of the clearing a tall, narrow-shouldered man of forty in a red shirt, in patched trousers that had been a gentleman's, and in high boots, was slouching along with a lazy, shambling step. He was sauntering along the road. On the right was the green of the clearing, on the left a golden sea of ripe rye stretched to the very horizon. He was red and perspiring, a white cap with a straight jockey peak, evidently a gift from some open-handed young gentleman, perched jauntily on his handsome flaxen head. Across his shoulder hung a game-bag with a black-cock lying in it. The man held a double-barrelled gun cocked in his hand, and screwed up his eyes in the direction of his lean old dog who was running on ahead sniffing the bushes. There was stillness all round, not a sound... everything living was hiding away from the heat.

"Yegor Vlassitch!" the huntsman suddenly heard a soft voice.

He started and, looking round, scowled. Beside him, as though she had sprung out of the earth, stood a pale-faced woman of thirty with a sickle in her hand. She was trying to look into his face, and was smiling diffidently.

"Oh, it is you, Pelagea!" said the huntsman, stopping and deliberately uncocking the gun. "H'm!... How have you come here?"

"The women from our village are working here, so I have come with them.... As a labourer, Yegor Vlassitch."

"Oh..." growled Yegor Vlassitch, and slowly walked on.

Pelagea followed him. They walked in silence for twenty paces.

"I have not seen you for a long time, Yegor Vlassitch..." said Pelagea looking tenderly at the huntsman's moving shoulders. "I have not seen you since you came into our hut at Easter for a drink of water... you came in at Easter for a minute and then God knows how... drunk... you scolded and beat me and went away... I have been waiting and waiting... I've tired my eyes out looking for you. Ah, Yegor Vlassitch, Yegor Vlassitch! you might look in just once!"

"What is there for me to do there?"

"Of course there is nothing for you to do... though to be sure... there is the place to look after.... To see how things are going.... You are the master.... I say, you have shot a blackcock, Yegor Vlassitch! You ought to sit down and rest!"

As she said all this Pelagea laughed like a silly girl and looked up at Yegor's face. Her face was simply radiant with happiness.

"Sit down? If you like..." said Yegor in a tone of indifference, and he chose a spot between two fir-trees. "Why are you standing? You sit down too."

Pelagea sat a little way off in the sun and, ashamed of her joy, put her hand over her smiling mouth. Two minutes passed in silence.

"You might come for once," said Pelagea.

"What for?" sighed Yegor, taking off his cap and wiping his red forehead with his hand. "There is no object in my coming. To go for an hour or two is only waste of time, it's simply upsetting you, and to live continually in the village my soul could not endure.... You know yourself I am a pampered man.... I want a bed to sleep in, good tea to drink, and refined conversation.... I want all the niceties, while you live in poverty and dirt in the village.... I couldn't stand it for a day. Suppose there were an edict that I must live with you, I should either set fire to the hut or lay hands on myself. From a boy I've had this love for ease; there is no help for it."

"Where are you living now?"

"With the gentleman here, Dmitry Ivanitch, as a huntsman. I furnish his table with game, but he keeps me... more for his pleasure than anything."

"That's not proper work you're doing, Yegor Vlassitch.... For other people it's a pastime, but with you it's like a trade... like real work."

"You don't understand, you silly," said Yegor, gazing gloomily at the sky. "You have never understood, and as long as you live you will never understand what sort of man I am.... You think of me as a foolish man, gone to the bad, but to anyone who understands I am the best shot there is in the whole district. The gentry feel that, and they have even printed things about me in a magazine. There isn't a man to be compared with me as a sportsman.... And it is not because I am pampered and proud that I look down upon your village work. From my childhood, you know, I have never had any calling apart from guns and dogs. If they took away my gun, I used to go out with the fishing-hook, if they took the hook I caught things with my hands. And I went in for horse-dealing too, I used to go to the fairs when I had the money, and you know that if a peasant goes in for being a sportsman, or a horse-dealer, it's good-bye to the plough. Once the spirit of freedom has taken a man you will never root it out of him. In the same way, if a gentleman goes in for being an actor or for any other art, he will never make an official or a landowner. You are a woman, and you do not understand, but one must understand that."

"I understand, Yegor Vlassitch."

"You don't understand if you are going to cry...."

"I... I'm not crying," said Pelagea, turning away. "It's a sin, Yegor Vlassitch! You might stay a day with luckless me, anyway. It's twelve years since I was married to you, and... and... there has never once been love between us!... I... I am not crying."

"Love..." muttered Yegor, scratching his hand. "There can't be any love. It's only in name we are husband and wife; we aren't really. In your eyes I am a wild man, and in mine you are a simple peasant woman with no understanding. Are we well matched? I am a free, pampered, profligate man, while you are a working woman, going in bark shoes and never straightening your back. The way I think of myself is that I am the foremost man in every kind of sport, and you look at me with pity.... Is that being well matched?"

"But we are married, you know, Yegor Vlassitch," sobbed Pelagea.

"Not married of our free will.... Have you forgotten? You have to thank Count Sergey Paylovitch and yourself. Out of envy, because I shot better than he did, the Count kept giving me wine for a whole month, and when a man's drunk you could make him change his religion, let alone getting married. To pay me out he married me to you when I was drunk.... A huntsman to a herd-girl! You saw I was drunk, why did you marry me? You were not a serf, you know; you could have resisted. Of course it was a bit of luck for a herd-girl to marry a huntsman, but you ought to have thought about it. Well, now be miserable, cry. It's a joke for the Count, but a crying matter for you.... Beat yourself against the wall."

A silence followed. Three wild ducks flew over the clearing. Yegor followed them with his eyes till, transformed into three scarcely visible dots, they sank down far beyond the forest.

"How do you live?" he asked, moving his eyes from the ducks to Pelagea.

"Now I am going out to work, and in the winter I take a child from the Foundling Hospital and bring it up on the bottle. They give me a rouble and a half a month."


Again a silence. From the strip that had been reaped floated a soft song which broke off at the very beginning. It was too hot to sing.

"They say you have put up a new hut for Akulina," said Pelagea.

Yegor did not speak.

"So she is dear to you...."

"It's your luck, it's fate!" said the huntsman, stretching. "You must put up with it, poor thing. But good-bye, I've been chattering long enough.... I must be at Boltovo by the evening."

Yegor rose, stretched himself, and slung his gun over his shoulder; Pelagea got up.

"And when are you coming to the village?" she asked softly.

"I have no reason to, I shall never come sober, and you have little to gain from me drunk; I am spiteful when I am drunk. Good-bye!"

"Good-bye, Yegor Vlassitch."

Yegor put his cap on t he back of his head and, clicking to his dog, went on his way. Pelagea stood still looking after him.... She saw his moving shoulder-blades, his jaunty cap, his lazy, careless step, and her eyes were full of sadness and tender affection.... Her gaze flitted over her husband's tall, lean figure and caressed and fondled it.... He, as though he felt that gaze, stopped and looked round.... He did not speak, but from his face, from his shrugged shoulders, Pelagea could see that he wanted to say something to her. She went up to him timidly and looked at him with imploring eyes.

"Take it," he said, turning round.

He gave her a crumpled rouble note and walked quickly away.

"Good-bye, Yegor Vlassitch," she said, mechanically taking the rouble.

He walked by a long road, straight as a taut strap. She, pale and motionless as a statue, stood, her eyes seizing every step he took. But the red of his shirt melted into the dark colour of his trousers, his step could not be seen, and the dog could not be distinguished from the boots. Nothing could be seen but the cap, and... suddenly Yegor turned off sharply into the clearing and the cap vanished in the greenness.

"Good-bye, Yegor Vlassitch," whispered Pelagea, and she stood on tiptoe to see the white cap once more.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Upanishads: Translated and Commentated by Swami Paramananda From the Original Sanskrit Text

A page of Isha Upanishad manuscript

The Upanishads:
The translator's idea of rendering the Upanishads into clear simple English, accessible to Occidental readers, had its origin in a visit paid to a Boston friend in 1909. The gentleman, then battling with a fatal malady, took from his library shelf a translation of the Upanishads and, opening it, expressed deep regret that the obscure and unfamiliar form shut from him what he felt to be profound and vital teaching.
The desire to unlock the closed doors of this ancient treasure house, awakened at that time, led to a series of classes on the Upanishads at The Vedanta Centre of Boston during its early days in St. Botolph Street. The translation and commentary then given were transcribed and, after studious revision, were published in the Centre's monthly magazine, "The Message of the East," in 1913 and 1914.. Still further revision has brought it to its present form.
So far as was consistent with a faithful rendering of the Sanskrit text, the Swami throughout his translation has sought to eliminate all that might seem obscure and confusing to the modern mind. While retaining in remarkable measure the rhythm and archaic force of the lines, he has tried not to sacrifice directness and simplicity of style. Where he has been obliged to use the Sanskrit term for lack of an exact English equivalent, he has invariably interpreted it by a familiar English word in brackets; and everything has been done to remove the sense of strangeness in order that the Occidental reader may not feel himself an alien in the new regions of thought opened to him.
Even more has the Swami striven to keep the letter subordinate to the spirit. Any Scripture is only secondarily an historical document. To treat it as an object of mere intellectual curiosity is to cheat the world of its deeper message. If mankind is to derive the highest benefit from a study of it, its appeal must be primarily to the spiritual consciousness; and one of the salient merits of the present translation lies in this, that the translator approaches his task not only with the grave concern of the careful scholar, but also with the profound reverence and fervor of the true devotee.
Boston, March, 1919
The Upanishads represent the loftiest heights of ancient Indo-Aryan thought and culture. They form the wisdom portion or Gnana-Kanda of the Vedas, as contrasted with the Karma-Kanda or sacrificial portion. In each of the four great Vedas—known as Rik, Yajur, Sama and Atharva—there is a large portion which deals predominantly with rituals and ceremonials, and which has for its aim to show man how by the path of right action he may prepare himself for higher attainment. Following this in each Veda is another portion called the Upanishad, which deals wholly with the essentials of philosophic discrimination and ultimate spiritual vision. For this reason the Upanishads are known as the Vedanta, that is, the end or final goal of wisdom (Veda, wisdom; anta, end).
The name Upanishad has been variously interpreted. Many claim that it is a compound Sanskrit word Upa-ni-shad, signifying "sitting at the feet or in the presence of a teacher"; while according to other authorities it means "to shatter" or "to destroy" the fetters of ignorance. Whatever may have been the technical reason for selecting this name, it was chosen undoubtedly to give a picture of aspiring seekers "approaching" some wise Seer in the seclusion of an Himalayan forest, in order to learn of him the profoundest truths regarding the cosmic universe and God. Because these teachings were usually given in the stillness of some distant retreat, where the noises of the world could not disturb the tranquillity of the contemplative life, they are known also as Aranyakas, Forest Books. Another reason for this name may be found in the fact that they were intended especially for the Vanaprasthas (those who, having fulfilled all their duties in the world, had retired to the forest to devote themselves to spiritual study).
The form which the teaching naturally assumed was that of dialogue, a form later adopted by Plato and other Greek philosophers. As nothing was written and all instruction was transmitted orally, the Upanishads are called Srutis, "what is heard." The term was also used in the sense of revealed, the Upanishads being regarded as direct revelations of God; while the Smritis, minor Scriptures "recorded through memory," were traditional works of purely human origin. It is a significant fact that nowhere in the Upanishads is mention made of any author or recorder.
No date for the origin of the Upanishads can be fixed, because the written text does not limit their antiquity. The word Sruti makes that clear to us. The teaching probably existed ages before it was set down in any written form. The text itself bears evidence of this, because not infrequently in a dialogue between teacher and disciple the teacher quotes from earlier Scriptures now unknown to us. As Professor Max Müller states in his lectures on the Vedanta Philosophy: "One feels certain that behind all these lightning-flashes of religious and philosophic thought there is a distant past, a dark background of which we shall never know the beginning." Some scholars place the Vedic period as far back as 4000 or 5000 B.C.; others from 2000 to 1400 B.C. But even the most conservative admit that it antedates, by several centuries at least, the Buddhistic period which begins in the sixth century B.C.
The value of the Upanishads, however, does not rest upon their antiquity, but upon the vital message they contain for all times and all peoples. There is nothing peculiarly racial or local in them. The ennobling lessons of these Scriptures are as practical for the modern world as they were for the Indo-Aryans of the earliest Vedic age. Their teachings are summed up in two Maha-Vakyam or "great sayings":—Tat twam asi (That thou art) and Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman). This oneness of Soul and God lies at the very root of all Vedic thought, and it is this dominant ideal of the unity of all life and the oneness of Truth which makes the study of the Upanishads especially beneficial at the present moment.
One of the most eminent of European Orientalists writes: "If we fix our attention upon it (this fundamental dogma of the Vedanta system) in its philosophical simplicity as the identity of God and the Soul, the Brahman and the Atman, it will be found to possess a significance reaching far beyond the Upanishads, their time and country; nay, we claim for it an inestimable value for the whole race of mankind.
Whatever new and unwonted paths the philosophy of the future may strike out, this principle will remain permanently unshaken and from it no deviation can possibly take place. If ever a general solution is reached of the great riddle . . . the key can only be found where alone the secret of nature lies open to us from within, that is to say, in our innermost self. It was here that for the first time the original thinkers of the Upanishads, to their immortal honor, found it…."
The first introduction of the Upanishads to the Western world was through a translation into Persian made in the seventeenth century. More than a century later the distinguished French scholar, Anquetil Duperron, brought a copy of the manuscript from Persia to France and translated it into French and Latin. Publishing only the Latin text. Despite the distortions which must have resulted from transmission through two alien languages, the light of the thought still shone with such brightness that it drew from Schopenhauer the fervent words: "How entirely does the Oupnekhat (Upanishad) breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas! How is every one, who by a diligent study of its Persian Latin has become familiar with that incomparable book, stirred by that spirit to the very depth of his Soul! From every sentence deep, original and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit." Again he says: "The access to (the Vedas) by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest privilege which this still young century (1818) may claim before all previous centuries." This testimony is borne out by the thoughtful American scholar, Thoreau, who writes: "What extracts from the Vedas I have read fall on me like the light of a higher and purer luminary which describes a loftier course through a purer stratum free from particulars, simple, universal."
The first English translation was made by a learned Hindu, Raja Ram Mohun Roy (1775-1833). Since that time there have been various European translations—French, German, Italian and English. But a mere translation, however accurate and sympathetic, is not sufficient to make the Upanishads accessible to the Occidental mind. Professor Max Müller after a lifetime of arduous labor in this field frankly confesses: "Modern words are round, ancient words are square, and we may as well hope to solve the quadrature of the circle, as to express adequately the ancient thought of the Vedas in modern English."
Without a commentary it is practically impossible to understand either the spirit or the meaning of the Upanishads. They were never designed as popular Scriptures. They grew up essentially as text books of God-knowledge and Self-knowledge, and like all text books they need interpretation. Being transmitted orally from teacher to disciple, the style was necessarily extremely condensed and in the form of aphorisms. The language also was often metaphorical and obscure. Yet if one has the perseverance to penetrate beneath these mere surface difficulties, one is repaid a hundredfold; for these ancient Sacred Books contain the most precious gems of spiritual thought.
Every Upanishad begins with a Peace Chant (Shanti-patha) to create the proper atmosphere of purity and serenity. To study about God the whole nature must be prepared, so unitedly and with loving hearts teacher and disciples prayed to the Supreme Being for His grace and protection. It is not possible to comprehend the subtle problems of life unless the thought is tranquil and the energy concentrated. Until our mind is withdrawn from the varied distractions and agitations of worldly affairs, we cannot enter into the spirit of higher religious study. No study is of avail so long as our inner being is not attuned. We must hold a peaceful attitude towards all living things; and if it is lacking, we must strive fervently to cultivate it through suggestion by chanting or repeating some holy text. The same lesson is taught by Jesus the Christ when He says: "If thou bring thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Bearing this lofty ideal of peace in our minds, let us try to make our hearts free from prejudice, doubt and intolerance, so that from these sacred writings we may draw in abundance inspiration, love and wisdom.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

"L'ora di Barga" (The Hour of Barga) by Giovanni Pascoli. English translation, with original Italian text. "L'ora di Barga" (The Hour of Barga) from the collection "Canti di Castelvecchio" (1903)

The village of Barga

The following translation of "L'ora di Barga" (The Hour of Barga) by Giovanni Pascoli is from the book "The Poems of Giovanni Pascoli: Translated in English, with Original Italian Text," published by LiteraryJoint Press (2017). Also available as Amazon ebook (Free on Kindle Unlimited!)  and also on Kobo.
The Hour of Barga

In my little nook, where I hear nothing
but the murmur of the wheat's stems,
the sound of the hours comes with the wind
from the unseen hamlet in the mountains:
a sound that equally and lightly falls,
like a persuading voice.

You say, It's time, you say, It's late,
a mild voice that from the sky descends.
Yet, let me look a bit more at
the tree, the spider, the bee, the stem,
things that are many centuries, or a year,
or an hour old, and at those clouds that disappear.

Let me remain here still
amongst much movements of wings and branches;
and listen to the rooster that from a farm calls,
and to another one, that from another answers,
and, when elsewhere settled is the soul,
to the shrieks of a chickadee that brawls.

And then again the hour chimes, and sends me
first one of its cry of tinkling
wonder, then the same mild
voice of before is advising,
and deep, deep, deep, encourages me:
it tells me, It's late; it tells me, It's time.

Then you want me to think about the comeback,
voice that falls lightly from the sky!
Yet, how pretty is this little of day that is left
and shines as if through a voile!
I know it's time, I know it's late;
let me look on a bit longer, still.

Let me look within my soul,
let that in my past I live;
if only on the dry twig my flower lived on,
if only I found a kiss that I did not give!
In my little nook of shadowy exile
let me lament upon my own life!

And then again the hour chimes, and shrills
two times a cry of anguish, seemingly,
and then, back again mild and tranquil,
in my nook it persuades me:
it's late! it's time. Yes, let's go back where
those who love and whom I love dwell.

L'Ora di Barga

Al mio cantuccio, donde non sento
se non le reste brusir del grano,
il suon dell’ore viene col vento
dal non veduto borgo montano:
suono che uguale, che blando cade,
come una voce che persuade.

Tu dici, È l’ora, tu dici, È tardi,
voce che cadi blanda dal cielo.
Ma un poco ancora lascia che guardi
l’albero, il ragno, l’ape, lo stelo,
cose ch’han molti secoli o un anno
o un’ora, e quelle nubi che vanno.

Lasciami immoto qui rimanere
fra tanto moto d’ale e di fronde;
e udire il gallo che da un podere
chiama, e da un altro l’altro risponde,
e, quando altrove l’anima è fissa,
gli strilli d’una cincia che rissa.

E suona ancora l’ora, e mi manda
prima un suo grido di meraviglia
tinnulo, e quindi con la sua blanda
voce di prima parla e consiglia,
e grave grave grave m’incuora:
mi dice, È tardi; mi dice, È l’ora.

Tu vuoi che pensi dunque al ritorno,
voce che cadi blanda dal cielo!
Ma bello è questo poco di giorno
che mi traluce come da un velo!
Lo so ch’è l’ora, lo so ch’è tardi;
ma un poco ancora lascia che guardi.

Lascia che guardi dentro il mio cuore,
lascia ch’io viva del mio passato;
se c’è sul bronco sempre quel fiore,
s’io trovi un bacio che non ho dato!
Nel mio cantuccio d’ombra romita
lascia ch’io pianga su la mia vita!

E suona ancora l’ora, e mi squilla
due volte un grido quasi di cruccio,
e poi, tornata blanda e tranquilla,
mi persuade nel mio cantuccio:
è tardi! è l’ora! Sì, ritorniamo
dove son quelli ch’amano ed amo.

From the collection “Canti di Castelvecchio”

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"Il Gelsomino Notturno" (The Night Jasmine) by Giovanni Pascoli. English translation, with original Italian text. "Il Gelsomino Notturno" (The Night Jasmine) from the collection "Canti di Castelvecchio" (1903)

A Night Jasmine

The following translation of "Il Gelsomino Notturno " (The Night Jasmine) by Giovanni Pascoli is from the book "The Poems of Giovanni Pascoli: Translated in English, with Original Italian Text," published by LiteraryJoint Press (2017). Also available as Amazon ebook (Free on Kindle Unlimited!)  and also on Kobo.
The Night Jasmine

   And the night flowers open up,
   the hour I think about my loved ones.
   Among the viburnum trees appeared
   the twilight butterflies.

   It's been a while already, since the cries subsided:
   over there a lone house whispers.
   Under the wings the nest is fast asleep,
   like eyes under eyelashes.

   From the open calyxes exudes
   the odor of red strawberries.
   Over there, in the sitting room a light shines.
   Grass is born on top of the graves.

   A late bee murmurs
   finding all taken the cells.
   (*) The hen-like constellation in the azure
   farmyard goes by with its chirping of stars.

   Over the entire night exudes
   the odor  that goes with the wind.

   It goes the light up the stairs;
   it flickers in the upper floor: it has gone off...

   Now it's dawn: a tad crumpled,
   the petals close; within the secret
   and soft receptacle is being conceived
   some new happiness still unknown.

(*) The stars cluster of the Pleiades in Italian is also nicknamed "Chioccetta" or "little broody hen."

Il Gelsomino Notturno

    E s’aprono i fiori notturni,
    nell’ora che penso ai miei cari.
    Sono apparse in mezzo ai viburni
    le farfalle crepuscolari.

    Da un pezzo si tacquero i gridi:
    là sola una casa bisbiglia.
    Sotto l’ali dormono i nidi,
    come gli occhi sotto le ciglia.

    Dai calici aperti si esala
    l’odore di fragole rosse.
    Splende un lume là nella sala.
    Nasce l’erba sopra le fosse.

    Un’ape tardiva sussurra
    trovando già prese le celle.
    La Chioccetta per l’aia azzurra
    va col suo pigolio di stelle.

    Per tutta la notte s’esala
    l’odore che passa col vento.
    Passa il lume su per la scala;
    brilla al primo piano: s’è spento...

    È l’alba: si chiudono i petali
    un poco gualciti; si cova,
    dentro l’urna molle e segreta,
    non so che felicità nuova.

From the collection "Canti di Castelvecchio" (1903)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Poems of Giovanni Pascoli: Translated in English, with Original Italian Text

 "The Poems of Giovanni Pascoli: Translated in English, with Original Italian Text," published by LiteraryJoint Press (2017). Also available as Amazon ebook (Free on Kindle Unlimited!)  and also on Kobo.

The Poems of Giovanni Pascoli, Translated in English, next to their Original Italian Text. Giovanni Pascoli (b. at San Mauro Romagna, December 31, 1855, d. at Barga April 6, 1912) was a classical scholar and one of the greatest European poets of his times. The work of Giovanni Pascoli is considered the beginning of modern Italian poetry. Amidst the thick fog, in the rough seas and the rugged shores of a country divided by historic, cultural, and linguistic barriers, Pascoli become the lighthouse to point to, in order to find a common language and a way to unity. In appearance, he often simply spoke of “little things:” bucolic scenes, small images of nature, peasants and their everyday chores; even animals, birds, plants, and flowers with mystical names found their cozy spot under the beaming sun of Pascoli’s marvelous pen.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Vincenzo Cardarelli: The Forgotten amongst the Great: A Collection of the Best Poems Translated in English

Until now, with the sole exception of a few poems translated by the great Irish poet Desmond O'Grady in the late 1950's, the work of Vincenzo Cardarelli had remained precluded to the English speaking world and the international audience at large. The publication of this extensive collection will finally disclose the doors to one of the most prominent, yet still relatively unexplored, Italian and European poet of the twentieth century.

Available on Amazon (Printed end e-book edition) and Kobo.

Friday, April 20, 2018

"Cigola la carrucola del pozzo" (The well's pulley creaks) by Eugenio Montale, translated in English. From the collection "Ossi di seppia” (Cuttlefish bones,) 1925

From "Montale's Essential: The Poems of Eugenio Montale in English"  
ebook available on Amazon and Kobo

The well's pulley creaks

The well's pulley creaks
the water rises to the light and merges with it.
Trembles a memory in the brimming pail,
in the pure circle an image smiles.
I draw a face to evanescent lips, 
the past deforms itself, it grows old,
belongs to someone else...
Ah, how it already screeches
the wheel, it returns you to the gloomy bottom,
vision, a distance divides us.
From the collection "Ossi di seppia” (Cuttlefish bones,) 1925.


Cigola la carrucola del pozzo

Cigola la carrucola del pozzo
l’acqua sale alla luce e vi si fonde.
Trema un ricordo nel ricolmo secchio,
nel puro cerchio un’immagine ride.
Accosto un volto a evanescenti labbri:
si deforma il passato, si fa vecchio,
appartiene ad un altro…
Ah che già stride
la ruota, ti ridona all’atro fondo,
visione, una distanza ci divide.
From the collection "Ossi di seppia” (Cuttlefish bones,) 1925.