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Posts Tagged ‘Italian Poets’

Le Ricordanze / Memories (excerpt)

Le Ricordanze.

Né mi diceva il cor che l’età verde
Sarei dannato a consumare in questo
30Natio borgo selvaggio, intra una gente
Zotica, vil; cui nomi strani, e spesso
Argomento di riso e di trastullo,
Son dottrina e saper; che m’odia e fugge,
Per invidia non già, che non mi tiene
35Maggior di sé, ma perché tale estima
Ch’io mi tenga in cor mio, sebben di fuori
A persona giammai non ne fo segno.
Qui passo gli anni, abbandonato, occulto,
Senz’amor, senza vita; ed aspro a forza
40Tra lo stuol de’ malevoli divengo:
Qui di pietà mi spoglio e di virtudi,
E sprezzator degli uomini mi rendo,
Per la greggia ch’ho appresso: e intanto vola
Il caro tempo giovanil; più caro
45Che la fama e l’allor, più che la pura
Luce del giorno, e lo spirar: ti perdo
Senza un diletto, inutilmente, in questo
Soggiorno disumano, intra gli affanni,
O dell’arida vita unico fiore.

Memories.

For my heart never told me my green age
Was doomed to waste here, in this barbarous town
Where I was born, with cheap, boorish people,
Who hold in no repute learning or knowledge,
(Often indeed their jest, a thing to laugh at.)
They do not judge me better than themselves  –
But they suppose that in my heart I think so,
Although I never showed it any man.
And so I pass the years,  alone, obscure,
Loveless and lifeless; and I am forced to grow
Bitter myself, with this malignant crowd
And putting off my pity and my manhood
I make myself despise the human race,
Even as this herd has taught me; and meanwhile,
The dear season of youth is passing – dearer
Than laureled fame, as the clear light of day,
Than breath itself – and so it is I lose you,
Having reaped not one delight, and all things wasted,
In this inhuman spot, among afflictions,
O solitary flower of barren life!

Translation John Heath Stubbs


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Formerly in the Salt collection

Portrait of a woman in encaustic on limewood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ON THE PORTRAIT OF A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

Thus you were once, who now lie buried:
Dust and skeleton become. Now earth and clay upon your bones are heaped.
Motionless, positioned here in vain,
mute, gazing at the fleeting ages,
endures alone a solitary memory;
a grieving likeness, the sentinel
of beauty now stripped away. Those honeyed looks –
as even now your gaze suggests
which  set at once to trembling
the one they did transfix; Those lips
replete and filled with pleasure to brimming,
the steep waves spilling as from an urn which overflows.
The throat, in former times encircled by desire,
that most beloved hand, which cooled to clasp
the icy-cold and trembling hand it thrilled;
the breast to glance at which it seemed
the gazer with a visible pallor tinged….
That was a time that was. Now you are clay
and bones; a sight
reviled and piteous a stone conceals.

Thus does Fate reduce
what once appeared amongst us to be most vibrant and living….
A celestial image, and the eternal mystery
of our very beings. Today the unstoppable font
of immense exalted thoughts and senses,
and puissant beauty which towers over us,
seeming to thrill with splendour.
The steadfast token and the hope secure
of the immortal nature of our estate
and surpassing  fate,
of fortunes that would reign, and gilded worlds
bestowed upon our mortal nature,
tomorrow, by some slight, contrived pretext
makes defiling to the sight,
transforms what hitherto
had almost an angel seemed,
and from our minds together
that which so moving was:
The admirable conceits which delighted, suddenly vanish.

The infinite desires and lofty visions
created by pervading thoughts
and erudite concepts of intrinsic virtue,
seem as the swells of a delicious arcane sea
amidst which the human spirit drifts and wanders,
almost as an intrepid swimmer
disports himself among the billows.
But should one false note
assail the ear, it vitiates all –
turns paradise to naught within an instant.
How could this be so of human nature?
If it is found in all things to be weak and vile
and merely dust and shadows,
whence such lofty feelings?
But if it is born of something noble and gracious
as our most worthy thoughts and motives,
how could they, by such slight and insubstantial causes,
be by such means as this enkindled and snuffed out?

 

Translation Dia Tsung

Giacomo Leopardi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOPRA IL RITRATTO DI UNA BELLA DONNA.

Tal fosti: or qui sotterra
Polve e scheletro sei. Su l’ossa e il fango
Immobilmente collocato invano,
Muto, mirando dell’etadi il volo,
Sta, di memoria solo
E di dolor custode, il simulacro
Della scorsa beltà. Quel dolce sguardo,
Che tremar fe’, se, come or sembra, immoto
In altrui s’affisò; quel labbro, ond’alto
Par, come d’urna piena,
Traboccare il piacer; quel collo, cinto
Già di desio; quell’amorosa mano,
Che spesso, ove fu porta,
Sentì gelida far la man che strinse;
E il seno, onde la gente
Visibilmente di pallor si tinse,
Furo alcun tempo: or fango
Ed ossa sei: la vista
Vituperosa e trista un sasso asconde.

Così riduce il fato
Qual sembianza fra noi parve più viva
Immagine del ciel. Misterio eterno
Dell’esser nostro. Oggi d’eccelsi, immensi
Pensieri e sensi inenarrabil fonte,
Beltà grandeggia, e pare,
Quale splendor vibrato
Da natura immortal su queste arene,
Di sovrumani fati,
Di fortunati regni e d’aurei mondi
Segno e sicura spene
Dare al mortale stato:
Diman, per lieve forza,
Sozzo a vedere, abominoso, abbietto
Divien quel che fu dianzi
Quasi angelico aspetto,
E dalle menti insieme
Quel che da lui moveva
Ammirabil concetto, si dilegua.

Desiderii infiniti
E visioni altere
Crea nel vago pensiere,
Per natural virtù, dotto concento;
Onde per mar delizioso, arcano
Erra lo spirto umano,
Quasi come a diporto
Ardito notator per l’Oceano:
Ma se un discorde accento
Fere l’orecchio, in nulla
Torna quel paradiso in un momento.

Natura umana, or come,
Se frale in tutto e vile,
Se polve ed ombra sei, tant’alto senti?
Se in parte anco gentile,
Come i più degni tuoi moti e pensieri
Son così di leggeri
Da sì basse cagioni e desti e spenti?

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