Franz Kafka

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Aprile," by Vincenzo Cardarelli; "April," by Vincenzo Cardarelli, English version, translated in English, "Aprile," by Vincenzo Cardarelli

Vincent van Gogh 's The White Orchard, April 1888
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam



So many tired words
come to my mind
in this rainy day of April
when the barnyard is like a crushed cloud
or a flower that is spoiling.
Within a veil of rain
all is dressed like new.
The humid and dear earth
stings me and melts me away.
If your eyes are boggy and black
like hell,
then my sorrow is fresh
like a runlet.

 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.


Quante parole stanche
mi vengono alla mente
in questo giorno piovoso d'aprile
che l'aia è come nube che si spappola
o fior che si disfiora.
Dentro un velo di pioggia
tutto è vestito a nuovo.
L'umida e cara terra
mi punge e mi discioglie.
Se gli occhi tuoi son paludosi e neri
come l'inferno
il mio dolore è fresco
come un ruscello.

Vincenzo Cardarelli, da "Poesie," 1936

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Adolescente," by Vincenzo Cardarelli; "Adolescent," by Vincenzo Cardarelli, English version, translated in English, "Adolescente," by Vincenzo Cardarelli

Garden in Vaugirard (Painter's Family in the Garden in Rue Carcel), 1881, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.


Upon you, virgin adolescent,
a sacred shadow seems to rest.
No thing is more mysterious
and adorable and proper
than your disrobed flesh.
Yet, you conceal yourself
under the mindful dress
and dwell far away
with your grace
where you know not who will reach you there.
Certainly not me. When I see you passing by
at such a regal distance,
with your locks unbound
and all your body shaft-like straight, 
a vertigo sweeps me away.
You are the impenetrably smooth creature 
in whose breathing is pressing 
the obscure joy of a flesh that barely
bears its own plenitude.
In the blood, which on your face
has hues of flame,
the cosmos has its laughter
as in the black eye of a swallow.
Your pupil is burnt
by the sun within it.
Your mouth is closed tight.
Your white hands know not
the shameful perspiration of contacts. 
And I think how your body
laborious and vague
despairs love
in the heart of man!

And yet someone will spoil the flower,
mouth that is a spring of fresh water.
Someone who will not even know it,
a fisherman of sponges,
shall have such a rare pearl.
It shall be a grace and a blessing
not to have sought you
and not to know who you are
and not to be able to relish you
with the subtle awareness
that offends the jealous God.
Oh yes, the animal will be
sufficiently unaware
so that he dies not before touching you.
And everything is so.
You too know not who you are.
And you shall let yourself be taken,
just to see how is the game played,
to laugh a bit together.
Like a flame loses itself in the light,
at the touch of reality
the mysteries that you promise 
melt away into nothingness.
Not consumed, shall pass by
so much delight!
You will give yourself away, lose yourself,
in the whims that can never guess
right, with the first one that you will fancy.
Time loves the playfulness
that seconds it, 
not the cautious wish that dallies. 
In such a way does childhood
make the world tumble
and the wise is nothing but a boy
sorrowful because he has grown up.

 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.


Su te, vergine adolescente,
sta come un'ombra sacra.
Nulla è più misterioso
e adorabile e proprio
della tua carne spogliata.
Ma ti recludi nell'attenta veste
e abiti lontano
con la tua grazia
dove non sai chi ti raggiungerà.
Certo non io. Se ti veggo passare
a tanta regale distanza,
con la chioma sciolta
e tutta la persona astata,
la vertigine mi si porta via.
Sei l'imporosa e liscia creatura
cui preme nel suo respiro
l'oscuro gaudio della carne che appena
sopporta la sua pienezza.
Nel sangue, che ha diffusioni
di fiamma sulla tua faccia,
il cosmo fa le sue risa
come nell'occhio nero della rondine.
La tua pupilla è bruciata
dal sole che dentro vi sta.
La tua bocca è serrata.
Non sanno le mani tue bianche
il sudore umiliante dei contatti.
E penso come il tuo corpo
difficoltoso e vago
fa disperare l'amore
nel cuor dell'uomo!

Pure qualcuno ti disfiorerà,
bocca di sorgiva.
Qualcuno che non lo saprà,
un pescatore di spugne,
avrà questa perla rara.
Gli sarà grazia e fortuna
il non averti cercata
e non sapere chi sei
e non poterti godere
con la sottile coscienza
che offende il geloso Iddio.
Oh sì, l'animale sarà
abbastanza ignaro
per non morire prima di toccarti.
E tutto è così.
Tu anche non sai chi sei.
E prendere ti lascerai,
ma per vedere come il gioco è fatto,
per ridere un poco insieme.
Come fiamma si perde nella luce,
al tocco della realtà
i misteri che tu prometti
si disciolgono in nulla.
Inconsumata passerà
tanta gioia!
Tu ti darai, tu ti perderai,
per il capriccio che non indovina
mai, col primo che ti piacerà.
Ama il tempo lo scherzo
che lo seconda,
non il cauto volere che indugia.
Così la fanciullezza
fa ruzzolare il mondo
e il saggio non è che un fanciullo
che si duole di essere cresciuto.

Dalla raccolta “Prologhi,” 1916, Vincenzo Cardarelli.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Anton Chekhov's "A Happy Ending" (Russian: Хороший конец), English Translation, "A Happy Ending" by Anton Chekhov, full text, full version, in English

Portrait of Anton Chekhov, by Valentin Serov, 1903



LYUBOV GRIGORYEVNA, a substantial, buxom lady of forty who undertook matchmaking and many other matters of which it is usual to speak only in whispers, had come to see Stytchkin, the head guard, on a day when he was off duty. Stytchkin, somewhat embarrassed, but, as always, grave, practical, and severe, was walking up and down the room, smoking a cigar and saying:
"Very pleased to make your acquaintance. Semyon Ivanovitch recommended you on the ground that you may be able to assist me in a delicate and very important matter affecting the happiness of my life. I have, Lyubov Grigoryevna, reached the age of fifty-two; that is a period of life at which very many have already grown-up children. My position is a secure one. Though my fortune is not large, yet I am in a position to support a beloved being and children at my side. I may tell you between ourselves that apart from my salary I have also money in the bank which my manner of living has enabled me to save. I am a practical and sober man, I lead a sensible and consistent life, so that I may hold myself up as an example to many. But one thing I lack—a domestic hearth of my own and a partner in life, and I live like a wandering Magyar, moving from place to place without any satisfaction. I have no one with whom to take counsel, and when I am ill no one to give me water, and so on. Apart from that, Lyubov Grigoryevna, a married man has always more weight in society than a bachelor. . . . I am a man of the educated class, with money, but if you look at me from a point of view, what am I? A man with no kith and kin, no better than some Polish priest. And therefore I should be very desirous to be united in the bonds of Hymen—that is, to enter into matrimony with some worthy person."
"An excellent thing," said the matchmaker, with a sigh.
"I am a solitary man and in this town I know no one. Where can I go, and to whom can I apply, since all the people here are strangers to me? That is why Semyon Ivanovitch advised me to address myself to a person who is a specialist in this line, and makes the arrangement of the happiness of others her profession. And therefore I most earnestly beg you, Lyubov Grigoryevna, to assist me in ordering my future. You know all the marriageable young ladies in the town, and it is easy for you to accommodate me."
"I can. . . ."
"A glass of wine, I beg you. . . ."
With an habitual gesture the matchmaker raised her glass to her mouth and tossed it off without winking.
"I can," she repeated. "And what sort of bride would you like,
Nikolay Nikolayitch?"
"Should I like? The bride fate sends me."
"Well, of course it depends on your fate, but everyone has his own taste, you know. One likes dark ladies, the other prefers fair ones."
"You see, Lyubov Grigoryevna," said Stytchkin, sighing sedately, "I am a practical man and a man of character; for me beauty and external appearance generally take a secondary place, for, as you know yourself, beauty is neither bowl nor platter, and a pretty wife involves a great deal of anxiety. The way I look at it is, what matters most in a woman is not what is external, but what lies within—that is, that she should have soul and all the qualities. A glass of wine, I beg. . . . Of course, it would be very agreeable that one's wife should be rather plump, but for mutual happiness it is not of great consequence; what matters is the mind. Properly speaking, a woman does not need mind either, for if she has brains she will have too high an opinion of herself, and take all sorts of ideas into her head. One cannot do without education nowadays, of course, but education is of different kinds. It would be pleasing for one's wife to know French and German, to speak various languages, very pleasing; but what's the use of that if she can't sew on one's buttons, perhaps? I am a man of the educated class: I am just as much at home, I may say, with Prince Kanitelin as I am with you here now. But my habits are simple, and I want a girl who is not too much a fine lady. Above all, she must have respect for me and feel that I have made her happiness."
"To be sure."
"Well, now as regards the essential. . . . I do not want a wealthy bride; I would never condescend to anything so low as to marry for money. I desire not to be kept by my wife, but to keep her, and that she may be sensible of it. But I do not want a poor girl either. Though I am a man of means, and am marrying not from mercenary motives, but from love, yet I cannot take a poor girl, for, as you know yourself, prices have gone up so, and there will be children."
"One might find one with a dowry," said the matchmaker.
"A glass of wine, I beg. . . ."
There was a pause of five minutes.
The matchmaker heaved a sigh, took a sidelong glance at the guard, and asked:
"Well, now, my good sir . . . do you want anything in the bachelor line? I have some fine bargains. One is a French girl and one is a Greek. Well worth the money."
The guard thought a moment and said:
"No, I thank you. In view of your favourable disposition, allow me to enquire now how much you ask for your exertions in regard to a bride?"
"I don't ask much. Give me twenty-five roubles and the stuff for a dress, as is usual, and I will say thank you . . . but for the dowry, that's a different account."
Stytchkin folded his arms over his chest and fell to pondering in silence. After some thought he heaved a sigh and said:
"That's dear. . . ."
"It's not at all dear, Nikolay Nikolayitch! In old days when there were lots of weddings one did do it cheaper, but nowadays what are our earnings? If you make fifty roubles in a month that is not a fast, you may be thankful. It's not on weddings we make our money, my good sir."
Stytchkin looked at the matchmaker in amazement and shrugged his shoulders.
"H'm! . . . Do you call fifty roubles little?" he asked.
"Of course it is little! In old days we sometimes made more than a hundred."
"H'm! I should never have thought it was possible to earn such a sum by these jobs. Fifty roubles! It is not every man that earns as much! Pray drink your wine. . . ."
The matchmaker drained her glass without winking. Stytchkin looked her over from head to foot in silence, then said:
"Fifty roubles. . . . Why, that is six hundred roubles a year. . . .
Please take some more. . . With such dividends, you know, Lyubov
Grigoryevna, you would have no difficulty in making a match for
yourself. . . ."
"For myself," laughed the matchmaker, "I am an old woman."
"Not at all. . . . You have such a figure, and your face is plump and fair, and all the rest of it."
The matchmaker was embarrassed. Stytchkin was also embarrassed and sat down beside her.
"You are still very attractive," said he; "if you met with a practical, steady, careful husband, with his salary and your earnings you might even attract him very much, and you'd get on very well together. . . ."
"Goodness knows what you are saying, Nikolay Nikolayitch."
"Well, I meant no harm. . . ."
A silence followed. Stytchkin began loudly blowing his nose, while the matchmaker turned crimson, and looking bashfully at him, asked:
"And how much do you get, Nikolay Nikolayitch?"
"I? Seventy-five roubles, besides tips. . . . Apart from that we make something out of candles and hares."
"You go hunting, then?"
"No. Passengers who travel without tickets are called hares with us."
Another minute passed in silence. Stytchkin got up and walked about the room in excitement.
"I don't want a young wife," said he. "I am a middle-aged man, and I want someone who . . . as it might be like you . . . staid and settled and a figure something like yours. . . ."
"Goodness knows what you are saying . . ." giggled the matchmaker, hiding her crimson face in her kerchief.
"There is no need to be long thinking about it. You are after my own heart, and you suit me in your qualities. I am a practical, sober man, and if you like me . . . what could be better? Allow me to make you a proposal!"
The matchmaker dropped a tear, laughed, and, in token of her consent, clinked glasses with Stytchkin.
"Well," said the happy railway guard, "now allow me to explain to you the behaviour and manner of life I desire from you. . . . I am a strict, respectable, practical man. I take a gentlemanly view of everything. And I desire that my wife should be strict also, and should understand that to her I am a benefactor and the foremost person in the world."
He sat down, and, heaving a deep sigh, began expounding to his bride-elect his views on domestic life and a wife's duties.

Friday, April 1, 2016

"Kinder auf der Landstraße," by Franz Kafka: "Children on the Country Road," English version. "Kinder auf der Landstraße, Children on the Country Road" by Franz Kafka, translated in English, with Original Text in German

Cover of: "The Tales of Franz Kafka: English Translation With Original Text In German."

Kinder auf der Landstraße

Ich hörte die Wagen an dem Gartengitter vorüberfahren, manchmal sah ich sie auch durch die schwach bewegten Lücken im Laub. Wie krachte in dem heißen Sommer das Holz in ihren Speichen und Deichseln! Arbeiter kamen von den Feldern und lachten, daß es eine Schande war.
Ich saß auf unserer kleinen Schaukel, ich ruhte mich gerade aus zwischen den Bäumen im Garten meiner Eltern.
Vor dem Gitter hörte es nicht auf. Kinder im Laufschritt waren im Augenblick vorüber; Getreidewagen mit Männern und Frauen auf den Garben und rings herum verdunkelten die Blumenbeete; gegen Abend sah ich einen Herrn mit einem Stock langsam spazierengehn, und ein paar Mädchen, die Arm in Arm ihm entgegenkamen, traten grüßend ins seitliche Gras.
Dann flogen Vögel wie sprühend auf, ich folgte ihnen mit den Blicken, sah, wie sie in einem Atemzug stiegen, bis ich nicht mehr glaubte, daß sie stiegen, sondern, daß ich falle, und fest mich an den Seilen haltend, aus Schwäche ein wenig zu schaukeln anfing. Bald schaukelte ich stärker, als die Luft schon kühler wehte und selbst der fliegenden Vögel zitternde Sterne erschienen.
Bei Kerzenlicht bekam ich mein Nachtmahl. Oft hatte ich beide Arme auf der Holzplatte und, schon müde, biß ich in mein Butterbrot. Die stark durchbrochenen Vorhänge bauschten sich im warmen Wind, und manchmal hielt sie einer, der draußen vorüberging, mit seinen Händen fest, wenn er mich besser sehen und mit mir reden wollte. Meistens verlöschte die Kerze bald und in dem dunklen Kerzenrauch trieben sich noch eine Zeitlang die versammelten Mücken herum. Fragte mich einer vom Fenster aus, so sah ich ihn an, als schaue ich ins Gebirge oder in die bloße Luft, und auch ihm war an einer Antwort nicht viel gelegen.
Sprang dann einer über die Fensterbrüstung und meldete, die anderen seien schon vor dem Haus, so stand ich freilich seufzend auf.
»Nein, warum seufzst du so? Was ist denn geschehn? Ist es ein besonderes, nie gut zu machendes Unglück? Werden wir uns nie davon erholen können? Ist wirklich alles verloren?«
Nichts war verloren. Wir liefen vor das Haus. »Gott sei Dank, da seid ihr endlich!« — »Du kommst halt immer zu spät!« — »Wieso denn ich?« — »Gerade du, bleib zu Hause, wenn du nicht mitwillst.« — »Keine Gnaden!« — »Was? Keine Gnaden? Wie redest du?«Wir durchstießen den Abend mit dem Kopf. Es gab keine Tages- und keine Nachtzeit. Bald rieben sich unsere Westenknöpfe aneinander wie Zähne, bald liefen wir in gleichbleibender Entfernung, Feuer im Mund, wie Tiere in den Tropen. Wie Kürassiere in alten Kriegen, stampfend und hoch in der Luft, trieben wir einander die kurze Gasse hinunter und mit diesem Anlauf in den Beinen die Landstraße weiter hinauf. Einzelne traten in den Straßengraben, kaum verschwanden sie vor der dunklen Böschung, standen sie schon wie fremde Leute oben auf dem Feldweg und schauten herab.
»Kommt doch herunter!« — »Kommt zuerst herauf!« — »Damit ihr uns herunterwerfet, fällt uns nicht ein, so gescheit sind wir noch.« — »So feig seid ihr, wollt ihr sagen. Kommt nur, kommt!« — »Wirklich? Ihr? Gerade ihr werdet uns hinunterwerfen? Wie müßtet ihr aussehen?«
Wir machten den Angriff, wurden vor die Brust gestoßen und legten uns in das Gras des Straßengrabens, fallend und freiwillig. Alles war gleichmäßig erwärmt, wir spürten nicht Wärme, nicht Kälte im Gras, nur müde wurde man.

Wenn man sich auf die rechte Seite drehte, die Hand unters Ohr gab, da wollte man gerne einschlafen. Zwar wollte man sich noch einmal aufraffen mit erhobenem Kinn, dafür aber in einen tieferen Graben fallen. Dann wollte man, den Arm quer vorgehalten, die Beine schiefgeweht, sich gegen die Luft werfen und wieder bestimmt in einen noch tieferen Graben fallen. Und damit wollte man gar nicht aufhören.
Wie man sich im letzten Graben richtig zum Schlafen aufs äußerste strecken würde, besonders in den Knien, daran dachte man noch kaum und lag, zum Weinen aufgelegt, wie krank, auf dem Rücken. Man zwinkerte, wenn einmal ein Junge, die Ellbogen bei den Hüften, mit dunklen Sohlen über uns von der Böschung auf die Straße sprang.
Den Mond sah man schon in einiger Höhe, ein Postwagen fuhr in seinem Licht vorbei. Ein schwacher Wind erhob sich allgemein, auch im Graben fühlte man ihn, und in der Nähe fing der Wald zu rauschen an. Da lag einem nicht mehr so viel daran, allein zu sein.
»Wo seid ihr?« — »Kommt her!« — »Alle zusammen!« — »Was versteckst du dich, laß den Unsinn!« — »Wißt ihr nicht, daß die Post schon vorüber ist?« — »Aber nein! Schon vorüber?« — »Natürlich, während du geschlafen hast, ist sie vorübergefahren.« — »Ich habe geschlafen? Nein so etwas!« — »Schweig nur, man sieht es dir doch an.«- »Aber ich bitte dich.« — »Kommt!«
Wir liefen enger beisammen, manche reichten einander die Hände, den Kopf konnte man nicht genug hoch haben, weil es abwärts ging. Einer schrie einen indianischen Kriegsruf heraus, wir bekamen in die Beine einen Galopp wie niemals, bei den Sprüngen hob uns in den Hüften der Wind. Nichts hätte uns aufhalten können wir waren so im Laufe, daß wir selbst beim Überholen die Arme verschränken und ruhig uns umsehen konnten.
Auf der Wildbachbrücke blieben wir stehn; die weiter gelaufen waren, kehrten zurück. Das Wasser unten schlug an Steine und Wurzeln, als wäre es nicht schon Spätabend. Es gab keinen Grund dafür, warum nicht einer auf das Geländer der Brücke sprang.
Hinter Gebüschen in der Ferne fuhr ein Eisenbahnzug heraus, alle Kupees waren beleuchtet, die Glasfenster sicher herabgelassen. Einer von uns begann einen Gassenhauer zu singen, aber wir alle wollten singen. Wir sangen viel rascher, als der Zug fuhr, wir schaukelten die Arme, weil die Stimme nicht genügte, wir kamen mit unseren Stimmen in ein Gedränge, in dem uns wohl war. Wenn man seine Stimme unter andere mischt, ist man wie mit einem Angelhaken gefangen.
So sangen wir, den Wald im Rücken, den fernen Reisenden in die Ohren. Die Erwachsenen wachten noch im Dorfe, die Mütter richteten die Betten für die Nacht.Es war schon Zeit. Ich küßte den, der bei mir stand, reichte den drei Nächsten nur so die Hände, begann, den Weg zurückzulaufen, keiner rief mich. Bei der ersten Kreuzung, wo sie mich nicht mehr sehen konnten, bog ich ein und lief auf Feldwegen wieder in den Wald. Ich strebte zu der Stadt im Süden hin, von der es in unserem Dorfe hieß:
»Dort sind Leute! Denkt euch, die schlafen nicht!«
»Und warum denn nicht?«
»Weil sie nicht müde werden.«
»Und warum denn nicht?«
»Weil sie Narren sind.«
»Werden denn Narren nicht müde?«
»Wie könnten Narren müde werden!«

Children on a Country Road

I heard the carriages going past the garden fence; sometimes I even saw them, through the gently swaying gaps in the foliage. How the wood of their spokes and shafts creaked in the summer heat! Laborers were coming from the fields, laughing so, that it was a shame.
I was sitting on our little swing, just resting among the trees in the garden of my parents.
On the other side of the fence, it never stopped. Children at a run were past in the blink of an eye; harvest wagons, with men and women on the sheaves and all around, darkened the flowerbeds; into the evening, I saw a gentleman slowly strolling with a walking cane, and a couple of girls going arm in arm going towards him, and stepping aside into the grass as they greeted him.
Like sparkling, the birds flew up, I followed them with my eyes and saw how high they rose in one breath, till I though not that they were rising but rather that I was falling, and I held fast to the ropes, and out of weakness I began to rock a little. Soon I was rocking more strongly, as the air blew colder and even the soaring birds appeared as trembling stars... 
(see links to Full Text  below).

From "The Tales of Franz Kafka: English Translation With Original Text In German," available as e-book on Amazon KindleiPhone, iPad, or iPod touchon NOOK Bookon Kobo, and as printed, traditional edition through Lulu.