Franz Kafka

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Trieste, by Umberto Saba, English Translation

Original manuscript by Umberto Saba, from “Trieste and a woman” (1910-12)
One of the most well-known lyrics by Umberto Saba, "Trieste" is a testament to the author's love for his city, as it recounts his quest for harmony, the effort to find his own way, his own nook in the world, and call it home.

I traversed the entire town.
Then I climbed a steep slope,
crowded at first, deserted further up,
closed by a low wall:
a nook where I sit

alone; and it seems to me that where it ends
the town ends too.

Trieste has a surly
grace. If one likes it,
it is like a rascal, harsh and voracious,                                              
with blue eyes and hands too big

to offer a flower;
like a love

with jealousy.
Up from this slope every church, any street
I discover, whether it takes to the huddled beach,
or to the hill where, onto the rocky

top, a house, the last one, clings.
All around

circles all things
a strange air, a tormented air,
the native air.

My town that is in every of its part alive,
has a nook made just for me and my life,
pensive and reserved.

from “Trieste and a woman” (1910-12)
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: 

Ho attraversato tutta la città.
Poi ho salita un'erta,
popolosa in principio, in là deserta,
chiusa da un muricciolo:
un cantuccio in cui solo
siedo; e mi pare che dove esso termina
termini la città.

Trieste ha una scontrosa
grazia. Se piace,                                             
è come un ragazzaccio aspro e vorace,
con gli occhi azzurri e mani troppo grandi
per regalare un fiore;
come un amore
con gelosia.
Da quest'erta ogni chiesa, ogni sua via
scopro, se mena all'ingombrata spiaggia,
o alla collina cui, sulla sassosa
cima, una casa, l'ultima, s'aggrappa.
circola ad ogni cosa
un'aria strana, un'aria tormentosa,
l'aria natia.

La mia città che in ogni parte è viva,
ha il cantuccio a me fatto, alla mia vita
pensosa e schiva.

da “Trieste e una donna” (1910-12)


  1. I am from Trieste, thank you

  2. So true of Trieste in the past, rather grey and solemn, but today......piu allegro!!


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