Franz Kafka

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.