Franz Kafka

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jersey Blues, Selected Poems, published today!

The much-awaited Jersey Blues, Selected Poems now published: available as classic paperback book as well as e-book, and on the iBookstore.

Cover of Jersey Blues, Selected Poems, 2012
A foreword from the author:

    In my many years in America, like a pilgrim, or a spiritual vagrant, crisscrossing the country—always rolling on the very fabric of the continent: westwards and eastwards, to the eternal oceans, and from the northern vast plains down through the Appalachian, to the deep recesses of the lowlands, to the swamps—infallibly enough, I would always return to my dwelling in Princeton. 
    Many a time the lonely night was devoted to the contemplation of the moon of New Jersey, as I licked the wounds of a sore soul. Always wondered I, how different that pale, ghostly circle of a moon was, from the one I encountered elsewhere above the magnificent land that I had been scampering about, and from the lost moon of my childhood.
    Yet, with adulthood—or maturity—seeing at last the rise and fall of earthling matters, I would flinch, my heart recoiling, as from something unpleasant. Thus, through the jaundiced, estranged buoy in the sky, I would recall past memories, and hold out my quivering hand to reach over to the always-receding mysteries of existence. These are, in essence, my "Jersey Blues."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Fior di Neve" (Snow Blossom), by Umberto Saba and "Dust of Snow", by Robert Frost, an intriguing parallel

Robert Frost and Umberto Saba were contemporary writers, who lived between the last quarter of the nineteen century and the midst of the twentieth century. Although quite different in terms of background, language, and poetic sensibility, here are two vivacious short poems of theirs, both on the theme of snow, that I am thrilled to present as an intriguing parallel. They are, respectively, Snow Blossom and Dust of Snow; the former is sort of dream-like and transcendent, the latter rather displays a shade of darkness, yet pervaded by a vein of humor. I offered further below the Italian translation of Robert Frost's original poem, as well as the English translation of Umberto Saba's original text in Italian, to accommodate both international and Italian readers.

Umberto Saba: the Collection of Poems. Umberto Saba's Poetry Translated in English. Umberto Saba: "Il Canzoniere" (The Songbook). 

Available as printed book on  Amazon and as ebook on Amazon KindleLuluKobo,
Apple iBooks, Google Books and all major plarforms.

Cover of Umberto Saba's Poesie, First Edition, 1911
 Dust of Snow, original manuscript, 1958

          Snow Blossom, by Umberto Saba                                    

Up in the heavens all the angels
saw the bare fields
without leaves nor flowers
and they read in the children's hearts
how they love the white things.
So fluttered they the wings tired of flying
and then descended lightly lightly
the blossomed snow.

Dust of Snow, by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Fior di Neve, by Umberto Saba, original text in Italian, and the Italian translation of Dust of Snow, by Robert Frost.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

San Martino, Saint Martin's Day, by Giosue Carducci, English Translation

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) - Saint Martin and the Beggar 1597/1599

Saint Martin's Day, by Giosue Carducci, from "Rime Nuove", 1887

The fog to the bare hills
soars in the thin rain,
and below the wind
howls and churns the sea;

yet through the hamlet's alleys
from the fermenting casks
goes the pungent scent of wines
to touch a soul with glee.

On the firewood, turns
the skewer crackling:
stands the hunter whistling,
on the threshold to see

in the reddening clouds
flocks of black birds,
like exiled thoughts
as in the dusk they flee.

Original text in Italian:

Monday, November 19, 2012

My November Guest, by Robert Frost, Italian Translation, Traduzione in Italiano

Photograph c. 1936 by A. Allyn Bishop, Newport, Vermont
Gift of Elizabeth Nutter to FoRF

La Mia Ospite Novembrina, di Robert Frost, 

da "A Boy's Will", 1913, traduzione Literary Joint

La mia tristezza, quando mi sta qui accanto,
Trova che questi bui giorni d'autunno
Siano belli come non mai; 
Lei ama gli spogli alberi appassiti; 
Lei cammina lungo i sentieri gonfi di pioggia.

Il suo piacere non mi lascerà stare. 
Lei parla e io son contento d'ascoltare:
Lei è lieta che gli uccelli siano andati via,
Lei è lieta  che il suo grigio semplicemente sbiadito
Sia d'argento adesso con l'avvolgente foschia.

I desolati alberi abbandonati,
La terra affievolita, il cielo greve,
Le bellezze che vede così vividamente,
Lei crede che per loro io non abbia occhi,
mi fa irritare per questo motivo lieve.

Non è da ieri che ho imparato a conoscere
L'amore per i giorni spogli di novembre
Prima dell'arrivo della neve,
Ma dirglielo era sempre in vano,
E sono più belli in virtù della sua lode.  

Original Text in English:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Novembre, November, by Giovanni Pascoli, English Translation

Cover of Myricae, first published in 1891, 4th Edition

November, from Myricae, by Giovanni Pascoli, English Translation by Literary Joint

Gem-like the air, the sun is so bright
that you seek the apricot trees in bloom,
and the bitter scent of hawthorn lingers in your heart.

But dried-up is the haw, and the scrawny boughs
weave black threads against the serene blue,
empty is the sky, and resounds hollow the trodden earth.

Silence around: only, at the wind's gusts,
you hear afar, from gardens and orchards,
a frail falling of leaves.
It is the Summer, chilly, of the dead.

Original Text in Italian:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Abbandono (Abandonment), by Vincenzo Cardarelli, English Translation by LiteraryJoint

Melancholy,1891, by Edvard Munch

With the nostalgia of Fall lingering in our swollen hearts, we add to the theme of abandonment, proposing a brief poem by Vincenzo Cardarelli: Abbandono (Abandonment) in an English version, by LiteraryJoint.


You flew away
like a dove
and got lost yonder, to the East.
Yet remained the places that saw you
and the hours of our encounters.
Deserted hours,
places that to me became a sepulcher 
of which I am the guardian. 
From the collection "Poesie,"1936, 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:


Volata sei, fuggita
come una colomba
e ti sei persa là, verso oriente.
Ma son rimasti i luoghi che ti videro
e l'ore dei nostri incontri.
Ore deserte,
luoghi per me divenuti un sepolcro
a cui faccio la guardia.

 Vincenzo Cardarelli, dalla raccolta "Poesie,"1936.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lavandare (Laundresses), by Giovanni Pascoli, English Translation


Portrait of Giovanni Pascoli
San Mauro di Romagna, Dec 31, 1855 – Bologna, April 6, 1912

This year we commemorate the centennial of the great poet's departure—see the Pascoli Foundation (Italian) for events organized throughout 2012 to mark this occasion—and Literary Joint is happy to present the translation in English of one of his most famous poems, Lavandare (Laundresses). It is often reckoned that Pascoli is a tough nut to render in any other language, some suggest it being effectively untranslatable. Yet, we do not think this is necessarily the case...


Laundresses, from Myricae, by Giovanni Pascoli 

In the field half black and half gray
remains a plow without oxes that seems
forgotten, in the steamy air.

And rhythmed by the irrigation ditch comes
the washboard's swash of the laundresses
with thick splashes and long lullabies:

The wind blows and the leaves fall like snow,
and yet you have not returned to your home-place!
since you departed, I have remained so!
like the plow amidst the fallow.

Original text in Italian

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Autunno (Autumn), by Vincenzo Cardarelli, English Translation

A Portrait of Vincenzo Cardarellli,
  (1887 - 1959)
The circular change of seasons, the come of Fall, a premonition of the crepuscular fading of life, in this famous short poem, Autunno, by Vincenzo Cardarelli.
     This month we will focus on this great and sometimes overlooked author, as he wonderfully depicts Autumn (and Ottobre, in another poem that we will present next week), the relentless flowing of time and of the seasons of life, with their fading memories, as a metaphor for destiny. You will appreciate the meditative tone in this and other lyrics of his, which arguably are evocative of the works of Giacomo Leopardi.
     Vincenzo Cardarelli, journalist, poet and literary critic,  led a solitary, dignified existence, from his humble background, through self-taught education and various peregrinations, until his final days in poverty and loneliness. He stood and sought for all that a true artist and intellectual has to stand and seek for: the uncompromising authenticity of art.  



Autumn. We felt its coming
in the wind of August,
in the rains of September
torrential and weeping
and a shiver ran through the earth
which now, bare and sad,
welcomes a bewildered sun. 
Now passes and declines,
in this Autumn progressing
with unspeakable slowness,
the best time of our life
and lengthily bids us farewell.
by Vincenzo Cardarelli, from the Collection "Poesie," 1949.
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. 

The original text in Italian:


Autunno. Già lo sentimmo venire
nel vento d'agosto,
nelle pioggie di settembre
torrenziali e piangenti
e un brivido percorse la terra
che ora, nuda e triste,
accoglie un sole smarrito.
Ora passa e declina,
in quest'autunno che incede
con lentezza indicibile,
il miglior tempo della nostra vita
e lungamente ci dice addio. 
Vincenzo Cardarelli, dalla Raccolta "Poesie," 1949.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wunsch, Indianer zu werden, by Franz Kafka, The Wish To Be a Red Indian, English Translation, Desiderio di diventare un Indiano,Traduzione in Italiano

Andy Warhol, Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century, Franz Kafka, 1980

Wunsch, Indianer zu werden, F. Kafka, 1913 
Wenn man doch ein Indianer wäre, gleich bereit, und auf dem rennenden Pferde, schief in der Luft, immer wieder kurz erzitterte über dem zitternden Boden, bis man die Sporen ließ, denn es gab keine Sporen, bis man die Zügel wegwarf, denn es gab keine Zügel, und kaum das Land vor sich als glatt gemähte Heide sah, schon ohne Pferdehals und Pferdekopf.
English and Italian translation by Literary Joint follows, with a few notes on the text...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Emelyan Pugachev (Емелья́н Пугачёв): myth and representation in Pushkin's novel "The Captain's Daughter"

Emelyan Pugachev, engrave by  Гравюра Лаврентия Серякова, 1881
First published in 1836, The Captain's Daughter is a romanticized, historic account of Pugachev's Rebellion (1773-1774), under the reign of Catherine the Great, and one of the most highly recognized works in prose of Aleksandr Sergyevic Pushkin.

Set in the time of the  greatest peasant revolutionary unrest in imperial Russia, it narrates the story of Emelyan Pugachev, the false czar, who impersonates Peter the Third. As he claimed his right to the throne, and rallied a multitude of people (the Cossacks, the Tatars, the nomadic Bashkirs, the Buddhist Kalmyks, the Kalmyks, the Muslims Kazakhs),  mostly peasants, promising the serfs land of their own and freedom from their masters. This analysis points out the representation of the controversial figure of Emelyan Pugachev sketched by Pushkin. Notwithstanding  the Cossack leader's intriguing historical figure—embittered enemy of  the czarina, posing a dreadful threat to the empire, in a time where Russia was already at war with the Ottomane Empire—and his army and followers—that were indeed depicted as brutal, cruel thugs, blood-thirsty murderers, despicable thieves  and so forth—Pushkin paints a portrait that bounds to feed the myth of the revolutionary leader.

Let's read together, in our humble English translation,  a few key passages of the narration—keeping in mind Pushkin's own struggle with power and censorship:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gabriele D'Annunzio, I Pastori, The Shepherds, English translation

English translation:
The Shepherds (from Alcyone, Sogni di Terre Lontane, 1903)
September, let's go. It is time to migrate.
Now in the land of Abruzzi my shepherds
leave the pens and take it to the sea:
they descend to the wild Adriatic
that is green like the pastures of the mountains.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, The Queen of Spades

"The Queen of Spades" (Пиковая дама; Pikovaya dama) - the story of the army officer, with a passion for gambling, who never gambles for he's "not in a position to risk the necessary in the hope of winning the superfluous" and become obsessed with...well you know the story line...- is a  marvelous work, with the merit of introducing in Russian literature elements of  gothic, romanticism, expressionism, noir, and psychology.
You read about the Countess Anna Fedotovna, the Queen of Spade, and the fleeting mind immediately goes to Dostoevsky, and "The Gambler"'s Antonida Vasilevna. As Hermann begs, threats and ultimately "kills",  one thinks of  "Crime and Punishment"'s  hero, the student Raskolnikov. Yet, what can possibly move Hermann's mind? Greed, despair, lack of humanity -certainly; perhaps also materialism, or atheism, or an early seed of nihilism that is yet to come? Indeed, Pushkin is the mother river, from which all the waters of all rivers originate. Then again, who or what is the queen of spade? Is it madness, despair or the mystery of existence? Is it the force of revenge, the wheel of destiny, the smite of conscience? Is it the bite of guilt, the inability to feel love or compassion, and to understand the living forces, the transcendent values, the sparking passions allowing to possibly overshadow, if not overcome,  the irremediable and grim karma of death?