Franz Kafka

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ottobre, Vincenzo Cardarelli (October, by Vincenzo Cardarelli), English translation

Annual Event dedicated to the poet
Vincenzo Cardarelli, held in Tarquinia, Italy
Continuing with our presentation of poems by Vincenzo Cardarelli, with the season of Fall as a theme, here is the remarkable October, in which the poet  decidedly switches gears, when compared to Autunno (Autumn). With a change in tone, the lengthy, melancholic farewell gives space and breath to a new, mellow, voluptuous sentiment; the intimate awareness of a full  maturity that precedes senility leaves behind the labored worries of youth and adulthood. Presently, the poet rejoices in the allegoric smell of the pungent odor of must and wine. It is already the time to abandon himself to a leisurely idleness, and sweet contemplation. In the vineyards, the grapes have been already harvested. 'Plundered' is the word, that evokes a loss, which nonetheless has been acknowledged, if not yet accepted.  The sun is rather shiny than hot; color takes over warmth, just as  rational understanding triumphs over passion in the meditative mind.


Once, it was in Summer,
it was at that fire, at those ardors,
that my imagination awakened.
I incline now towards Autumn
of a color that raptures;
I love the tired season
which has already harvested the grapes.
No other thing resembles me more,
nothing consoles me more,
than this air that odors
of must and wine,
of this old sun of October
shining in the plundered vineyards.

Unexpected Autumn sun,
shining as in a beyond world,
with tender perdition
and vagabond happiness,
you find us exhausted,
braced for the worst and with sorrowful souls.
This is precisely why we cherish you,
vague, surviving sun:
you know not how to bid us farewell
coming back every morning
like a renewed miracle,
the prettier the more you fade
and are about to expire.
And with these stunning days
you compose your own season
which is thoroughly a sweet agony.

From the collection "Poesie", 1942, by Vincenzo Cardarelli.  

From "Vincenzo Cardarelli: The Forgotten amongst the Great. A Collection of the Best Poems by Vincenzo Cardarelli, Translated in English," available as e-book on Amazon Kindle, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touchon NOOK Bookon Koboand as printed, traditional edition through Lulu.

          Original text in Italian:


Un tempo, era d’estate,
era a quel fuoco, a quegli ardori,
che si destava la mia fantasia.
Inclino adesso all’autunno
dal colore che inebria;
amo la stanca stagione
che ha già vendemmiato.
Niente più mi somiglia,
nulla più mi consola,
di quest’aria che odora
di mosto e di vino,
di questo vecchio sole ottobrino
che splende nelle vigne saccheggiate.

Sole d'autunno inatteso,
che splendi come in un di là,
con tenera perdizione
e vagabonda felicità,
tu ci trovi fiaccati,
vòlti al peggio e la morte nell'anima.
Ecco perché ci piaci,
vago sole superstite
che non sai dirci addio,
tornando ogni mattina
come un nuovo miracolo,
tanto più bello quanto più t'inoltri
e sei lì per spirare.
E di queste incredibili giornate
vai componendo la tua stagione
ch'è tutta una dolcissima agonia.
Vincenzo Cardarelli, dalla raccolta "Poesie", 1942


  1. Vincenzo Cardarelli is indeed a poet that deserves much more attention! Why is he somewhat overlooked?

  2. Fame and recognition might be something one is sometimes better off shunning Vincenzo Cardarelli's own words: "Io non sono che un povero e contrastatissimo scrittorello che non può assumere impegni né con la Gloria, né con la Fama".
    "I am just a poor and exceedingly hindered little writer that can not take commitments with either Glory or Fame".

  3. I have a version of this poem with a coma after "di mosto e di vino,". This should change the translation to
    "than this air that odors
    of must and wine,
    and this old sun of October"

    Makes more sense like this, since the sun does not smell.

  4. Hi Pavel,
    Thanks for stopping by and provide this valuable feed-back.
    I looked up again a few versions of the original text available on the web, and indeed some of them carry a comma. A comma, with its pause, would make sense and I am going to edit the original text and my translation accordingly. The comma itself doesn't change the verse, as "odors"still refers only to the "air", while the "sun"is listed as second source of "consolation". It does flows better with a comma ;0)
    Keep in touch!


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