Franz Kafka

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Poesia, by Umberto Saba, a version in English, by Literary Joint: Poetry, by Umberto Saba

Cover of a first edition of Umberto Saba's Poesie, 1911, Duke University Library

What is poetry? In this humble, powerful allegory, Umberto Saba compares it to a warm nook amidst the wintry storm: a cherished place that is not contaminated by the material struggle of existence, but nurtured by love and dear memories. The consciousness of this - the role of poetry itself -, unveils the hidden beauty around us, and an intrinsic goodness in things otherwise unnoticed, or that, even worse, would appear just grim, terrible, or mundane.


It is like when to a man pounded by the wind,
blinded by snow - all around paints
the city an infernal wintry world -
along the wall, a door opens.
He enters. Finds the goodness not dead,
the sweetness of a warm nook. Lays a name
that was forgotten, a kiss on
smiley faces, that he would only portray
as obscure in threatening dreams.
He returns
to the street, even the street is different.
The weather is fine again; the ice
is broken by industrious hands, the light blue
peeks back in the sky and in his heart. And he thinks
that dire times may foretell good ones.

by Umberto Saba, from the collection "The Songbook," 1933 
Translation in English by LiteraryJoint, Copyright © LiteraryJoint by Alessandro Baruffi 

Available as e-book on Amazon Kindle, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch NOOK Book and on Lulu. 

Original text in Italian:


E' come a un uomo battuto dal vento,
accecato di neve - intorno pinge
un inferno polare la città -
l'aprirsi, lungo il muro, di una porta.
Entra. Ritrova la bontà non morta,
la dolcezza d'un caldo angolo. Un nome
posa dimenticato, un bacio sopra
ilari volti, che solo vedeva
oscuri in sogni minacciosi.
Alla strada, anche la strada è un'altra.
Il tempo al bello si è rimesso; i ghiacci
spezzano mani operose, il celeste
rispunta in cielo e nel suo cuore. E pensa
che un estremo di mali un bene annunci.

Umberto Saba, da "Il canzoniere", 1933

1 comment:


    Comme pour un homme battu par le vent,
    aveuglé par la neige — autour de lui la ville
    est l’image d’un enfer polaire —
    c’est une porte qui s’ouvre, le long d’un mur.

    Il entre. La bonté n’est pas morte, il la retrouve,
    la douceur d’un coin chaud. Il pose
    un nom oublié, un baiser sur
    des visages riants qu’il ne voyait plus
    qu’obscurs en des songes menaçants.
    Il revient
    dans la rue, elle a changé aussi.
    Le temps s’est remis au beau, la glace
    est brisée par des mains laborieuses, le bleu
    à nouveau point au ciel et dans son cœur. Il songe
    que tout malheur extrême est l’annonce d’un bien.

    Umberto Saba, Paroles [1933-1934], Troisième volume [1933-1947], in Il Canzoniere, Bibliothèque de L'Âge d'homme, 1988, page 439. Traduction d’Odette Kaan.


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