Franz Kafka

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

A few words on "The Oven-Bird," by Robert Frost, and a version in Italian by LiteraryJoint; Il Tordo dalla Corona Dorata (The Oven-Bird) by Robert Frost, translated in Italian.

Robert Lee Frost: Robert Frost's America, the cover of The Atlantic magazine, June 1951.

What is that "diminished thing" we shall think what to make of? That is the riddle that comes with Frost's "The Oven-Bird," a sonnet that first appeared in the 1916 collection Mountain Interval, initiated in New England a few years earlier, and completed in London.
Like Mowing, the poem refers implicitly to the act of writing and the role of poetry: a bird who "knows in singing not to sing."
Old age, sickness, weakness seizing a man's body or mind, beauty that faded, love that wilted, memories that receded; anything that is no longer at its pinnacle: what do you make of it, here and now, in this life?

The Oven-Bird   

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

By Robert Frost, Mountain Interval, 1916 
Follows an Italian version, translated by LiteraryJoint. 

The Oven-Bird (lit. Il Tordo dalla Corona Dorata)

C'è un cantante che ognuno ha ascoltato,
Sonoro, un uccello di mezza estate e di mezzo bosco,
Che fa risuonare ancora i solidi tronchi d'albero.
Dice che le foglie son vecchie e che per i fiori
La mezza estate sta alla primavera come uno a dieci.
Dice che la caduta dei primi petali è passata
Quando i fiori dei peri e dei ciliegi cadevano come pioggia
In giornate di sole coperte per un momento;
E viene quell'altra caduta che chiamiamo autunno.
Dice che la polvere della strada copre tutto.
L'uccello smetterebbe per essere come altri uccelli
Ma è cantando che sa come non cantare.
La domanda che pone in non altro che parole
È che fare di una cosa sminuita.

Robert Frost, dalla raccolta "Mountain Interval", 1916. 
Traduzione in italiano a cura di LiteraryJoint. 

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