Tuesday, 1 January 2008

cesare pavese

2 poems for the price of one! because that's how long it's going to take my paint to dry

'Death shall come, using your eyes'

Death shall come, using your eyes -
the death that is with us
from morning till night, unsleeping,
muted like old remorse
or some foolish vice. Your eyes
will be an empty word,
a cry suppressed, a silence.
Like this each morning you
see it, when you lean alone
over the mirror. O cherished hope,
that day we too shall know
that you are life and nothingness.

Death has a look for everyone.
Death shall come, using your eyes.
It will be like ending a vice,
like seeing a dead face
emerge from the mirror,
like hearing closed lips speak.
We'll go down in silence.

I shall go through the Piazza di Spagna

The sky will be clear
The streets will open
below the hills of pine and stone.
No din of the streets will
change this motionless air.
The colour sprinkled flowers
by the fountains
will look on like women
amused. The steps
the terraces the swallows
will sing in the sun
That street will open,
the stones will sing,
the heart will beat, leaping
like water in fountains -
this will be the voice
climbing your steps.
The windows will know
the smell of stone and the morning
air. A door will open.
The din of the streets,
the din of the heart,
the light is bewildered.

It will be you - firm and clear.

trans margaret crosland

more pavese here including a another translation of the first poem. and here and here. other than this i haven't found anything actually in italian. it's worth reading out even if, like me, your italian's rubbish, because it's lovely on the tongue, esp the one about the cat


Sorlil said...

I love reading poems in translation, the act of translation seems to add a kind of awkwardness to a poem, but not in a bad sense, just gives it an unfamiliar air and makes the poem feel open-ended somehow

swiss said...

it's good fun to do, good for language and the best way i now to get into a poem

Marta said...

“Verrà la morte ed avrà i tuoi occhi

questa morte che ci accompagna

dal mattino alla sera, insonne

sorda, come un vecchio rimorso

o un vizio assurdo. I tuoi occhi

saranno una parola vana,

un grido taciuto, un silenzio.

Così li vedi ogni mattina

quando su te sola ti pieghi

nello specchio. O cara speranza,

quel giorno sapremo anche noi

che sei la vita e sei il nulla”.

Amazingly, I was thinking this poem just yesterday, in fact. In actual fact, I was thinking that, for the first time, it appeared clear to me that the poem is not about the death but about the meaning of hope, of dreaming, of illusions.

swiss said...

nicely played. except now that i've seen the original the translationlooks so different i'm going to have to get the dictionary out and
explore it a bit more

if only you could hear my awful italian. my, how you would laugh!

Andrew Shields said...

Get yourself a copy of Geoff Brock's collected Pavese, Disaffections. Superb stuff! (Full disclosure: GB is one of my best friends.)

swiss said...

i've been looking at that! doesn;t appear to be amazon-able in this country but going into town i the next couple of days so will keep an eye out for it. thanks for that.

Andrew Shields said...

I have the Copper Canyon edition of Disaffections from the US, but it has also been published by Carcanet in the UK.

swiss said...

bad man! not only have i now found the pavese but in order to do so i've had to look at the fabulous carcanet catalogue....


Andrew Shields said...

Could you resist ordering a few other books?

swiss said...