Franz Kafka

Friday, July 26, 2013

July and the Night

Evening Landscape With Rising Moon, Vincent Van Gogh, Saint-Rémy de Provence, 1889, oil on canvas

July and the Night 

I breathe Turgenev
"... In the pure dry air there is a scent
of wormwood, rye in blossom, and buckwheat;
even an hour before nightfall there is no moisture
in the air. It is for such weather that the farmer 
longs, for harvesting his wheat..."

The end of a glorious July day.
In the secretive orchard of my ancestors,
Crouched at the foot of a scrawny, old pear tree,
I recollected all my past, long gone summers,
And wondered how long the tree had been standing;
It always yielded small, pale-green pears:
Sour when firm, in the prime time of summer,
Sweet and juicy, when full and ripe.
Grandfather must have planted it, well before my days;
No special care or attention was required from us,
For the trunk was joined to the land,
The tree drew moisture from the rainfall,
And was married to the sun.
When I was little I used to climb
Up to the lower, slender branches,
For I wouldn't venture any higher.
My being brimmed over with tenderness...
The crickets chirped their laborious love songs,
And bats flitted around the tree tops, against the blue.
Hovering in the fresh breeze, I smelled the odorous youth,
That once ran through my weary limbs.
Across the magnificent hour-glass of the terse sky,
The night shadows advanced rapidly upon the blackening earth.
I chilled: the pitch-dark night was a hypothesis,
The dream-like sentry to my besieged, solitary fortress.
As the night fell upon me, I closed my eyes
And felt merriment all around.
I thought to myself that,  although we took no heed,
While the tree lived, I too lived, and saw a bit of the world.
The orchard was whispering mysteriously, and in the nearby
Gardens the flowers had closed their corollas, seeking rest.
As the tide of memories ebbed, my existence receded, too;
I quivered in fright: it was a nook that a soul
May never let go of lightheartedly.

Amsterdam, July, 2013

Copyright © Alessandro Baruffi
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Il villaggio vicino", da "Un medico di campagna", F. Kafka, (Das nächste Dorf, from "Ein Landarzt", 1919), versione in italiano

F. Kafka, Ein Landarzt. 14 Kleine Erzählungen. München und Leipzig: K. Wolff 1919

Il villaggio vicino


Mi nonno soleva dire: "La vita è sorprendentemente breve. Ora, nel ricordo, essa si contrae a tal punto che, per esempio, mi riesce difficile comprendere come un giovane possa decidere di cavalcare fino al villaggio vicino, senza temere che - a prescindere da fatalità sfortunate - anche il tempo di una vita comune e felice non sia, per una tale cavalcata, di gran lunga insufficiente. 

F. Kafka, Un Medico di Campagna, 1919
Versione in Italiano a cura di LiteraryJoint

Testo originale tedesco:
Mein Großvater pflegte zu sagen: »Das Leben ist erstaunlich kurz. Jetzt in Erinnerung drängt es sich mir so zusammen, daß ich zum Beispiel kaum begreife, wie ein junger Mensch sich entschließen kann, ins nächste Dorf zu reiten, ohne zu fürchten, daß - von unglücklichen Zufällen ganz abgesehen - schon die Zeit des gewöhnlichen, glücklich ablaufenden Lebens für einen solchen Ritt bei weitem nicht hinreicht.«

F. Kafka, Ein Landarzt, 1919

Friday, July 12, 2013

Onto You, a Poem from "Jersey Blues, Selected Poems"

A Bedouin and his camel resting before going down to the Gates of Cairo,
by Nellie Hadden

Onto You

I would cling onto you
as in the deceiving doze 
under the docile arches
laden with stars
abandons himself
half of the way
a Bedouin in the desert.

Princeton, New Jersey, April, 2003

From the collection Jersey Blues, also available on iBookstore and NOOK Book.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Non chiederci la parola, Do not ask us for the word, by Eugenio Montale, in English

"Ossi di Seppia", cover of the 1925 edition

Do not ask us for the word


Do not ask us for the word that gives shape from all angles
to our formless soul, and in letters of fire
declares it, and shines forth like a crocus,
lost in the middle of a dusty field.

Ah, the man who goes on confidently,
to others and to himself a friend,
unfazed by his own shadow which the Dog Star
stamps over a decrepit wall!

Do not demand from us the formula unfolding worlds before you,
rather a few crooked syllables - and dry like a twig.  
That alone today we can tell you,
who we are not, what we do not want.

Eugenio Montale, from "Ossi di Seppia", 1923

Original text in Italian

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Escape, a Poem from "Jersey Blues"

'The Hunted Slaves', Richard Ansdell, Oil on canvas, 1861, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.


The Escape

like the slave
from the tantalizing plantation
in the sultry, pitch-black night.

like the lost maid
from the bitter alcove
under the round moon.

like the evening shadows,
from the reddening hill-sides
of the dying soul.

And as you run away,
it occurs to you how there is
no shelter in this world,
nor in the other.

Princeton, New Jersey, April 2006

From the collection Jersey Blues, also available on iBookstoreNOOK Book, and Amazon Kindle.