Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another Quasimodo

I’ve managed to translate another Quasimodo poem, but not one of his pre-war efforts. This is post-war, that hint of ever-present doom within the pastoral scene, and yet...

Almost a Madrigal

The sunflower bends to the west
and the day already accelerates
to ruin within its eye and the summer air
thickens and already twists the leaves and the smoke
of building sites. Everything recedes with the dry
flow of clouds and screech of lightning –
the sky’s final trick. Again,
as ever, my dear, we are struck by the change
in trees cramped within the circle
of canals. But it is still our day
and still that sun, which departs
with the thread of its tender ray.

I no longer have memories, I do not want to remember;
memory rises again from death,
life is without end. Each day
is ours. One will stop forever,
and you with me, when it seems late to us.
Here on the canal’s bank, feet
swinging, like children,
we watch the water, the nearest branches
in its shade of darkening green.
And the man who approaches in silence
does not conceal a knife in his hands,
but a geranium flower.

3 comments:

Hedgie said...

This is very fine work. I think you're really on to something with these translations.

Sorlil said...

Interesting poem, congrats on an obviously very competent translation.

Rob Mackenzie said...

Thanks, hedgie and sorlil.

I was in a secondhand bookshop a couple of days ago and, astonishingly, picked up Quasimodo's 1947 "Giorno dopo Giorno" collection - the original Italian version, reprinted in 1960 to celebrate his Nobel win.

The book is packaged inside a plastic film with a big 'Nobel 1959' ribbon inside. It cost me only £3!