Two years have gone completely by, and in this room
For several months within that cupboard
With fierce persistence
O aged worm, I heard you gnawing away.
Returning I find you still concealed, alive
Within the worm-bored cabinet
From which to rip you out would be to no avail,
For reluctance to dismantle it piece by piece.
Often in bitter vigils
I listen to you keeping time
Monotonous and dreary
With repeated musings of a forlorn heart
Wherein an even bolder worm came in to stay,
Pleasing itself to relentlessly devour away.
While to each ear you make it known
That you are going about your labours
None can say but God himself
What fatal thing your counterpart brings back to this heart.
Externally is worn the gloss, the smiles, and all the time
Internally worm-eaten wood, devoured core.
Then when the work is too-well done,
From the cupboard’s heart one sees the airy dust
Thence falling to a fiercer distress the heart
Spilling and seeping into the chilled pillow
Tears of two tired eyes.
Concealed and rodent-like, these slow gnawers
Proceeding strangely with the same accord
Cause insensible wood to issue a lament
While the heart’s own quiet cry is stifled.
Thither lifeless matter is consumed, hither life
The parasitical worm
Almost impartially both discomposes
Till wood and heart each find their peace in dust.
Translation Dia Tsung
Due anni si compiro, e in questa stanza,
Entro codesto armario per più mesi,
Con feroce costanza,
O vecchio tarlo, rodere t’intesi;
Riedo, e vivente anco ti trovo e asconso
Nel mobile corroso,
Da cui strapparti tenterebbe invano
Chi ridur nol colesse a brano a brano.
Spesso tra veglie amare
Ascoltando il tuo metro
Sì monotono e tetro,
Ad un povero cor soglio pensare
Ove pur pentertave un tarlo audace
Che senza tregua roderlo si piace.
Sol mentre ad ogni orecchio manifesto
Rendi il tuo lavorio,
Non conosce che Dio
Quanto l’altro a quel cor torni funesto:
Di fuori il riso e la vernice, e ognora
Di dentro il tarlo e legno e cor divora:
Allor che l’ opra eccede ,
Dal fondo dell’ armario una leggiera
Tritura uscir si vede;
Quando l’ ambascia al cor scende più fiera,
Sopra freddo guancial cadon le stille
Di die stanche pupille.
Questi celati roditori e lenti
Così proseguon nello strano accordo:
Dall’ insensibili legno escon lamenti,
E il tace il core o il suo lamento è sordo.
Lì materia consuma e qui la vita
Il tarlo parrasita,
E quasi al par del legno si dissolve
Il cor che pace avrà col legno in polve.
Erminia Fuà Fusinato (1834 – 1876) was born of Jewish parents in Rovigo. Her father was in the medical profession. The family moved to Padua when she was very young. Her education was undertaken by her uncle Benedict, who took great pains to stimulate and develop his niece’s intellect. She began to write early and was encouraged to publish her poetry (in 1852) by the considerably older poet Arnaldo Fusinato who was then a widower and a Catholic, and whom she later married in 1856 despite strenuous parental objections.
After her marriage the couple went to live in Castelfranco Veneto, with her husband’s former mother-in-law the Countess Teresa Coletti Colonna
When her husband experienced financial problems she became a teacher in 1871 and taught Italian at the Scuola Normale in Rome. She later directed the Scuola Superiore Femminile , also in Rome. In addition to her poetry which was published in 1853 and 1874.
Erminia Fuà Fusinato had three children in 1857, 1860 and 1863.Between 1870 and 1876 she held various posts as an inspectress and director of schools.
She was ahead of her time in her thinking and writing, in that she married despite the opposition of her parents, and she did not restrict herself to the sphere of domestic activities.
She wrote on the subject of education (Scritti educative, 1873). She believed women should be permitted to have time away from their domestic duties in order to study Literature.
She died of Tuberculosis in 1876 in Rome.