- Trieste (‘Ho attraversata tutta la città’)
- I loved (‘Amai trite parole che non uno osava’)
- Winter Noon (‘In quel momento ch’ero già felice’)
- Ulysses (‘Nella mia giovinezza ho navigato’)
- Mediterranean (‘Penso un mare lontano, un porto, ascose’)
- Star (‘Stella, che m’hai veduto un giorno nascere’)
- Ulysses (‘O tu che sei si triste ed hai presagi’)
- Amorous Melancholy (‘Malinconia amorosa’)
- Whitethorn (‘Di marzo per la via’)
- Summer Night (‘Dalla stanza vicina ascolto care’)
- Our Moment (‘Sai un’ora del giorno che più bella’)
- The Leaf (‘Io sono come quella foglia, guarda’)
- Nietzsche (‘Intorno a una grandezza solitaria’)
- Amor (‘Ti dico addio quando ti cerco Amore’)
- Homeward (‘Anima, se ti pare che abbastanza’)
- Drunken Songs (‘Ebbri canti si levano e bestemmie’)
- From a Hill (‘Era d’ottobre; l’ora vespertina’)
- Via del Monte (‘A Trieste ove son tristezze molte’)
- Index by First Line.
Trieste (‘Ho attraversata tutta la città’)
I traversed the whole city.
Then climbed a hill,
crowded at first, in the end deserted,
closed off by a little wall,
a corner, where I alone
sit, and, to me, it seems: where it ends
the city ends.
Trieste has a sullen
grace; it’s a delinquent,
if you like– bitter, voracious,
with blue eyes, hands too clumsy
to offer flowers;
possessed by jealousy.
From this hill I discover every church,
Follow every street to the cluttered shore,
or the stony slope, on whose
summit a house, the last one, clings.
surrounding all these things
a strange air, a tormented air,
the native air.
My city, alive in every part,
has left this corner for me, for my life,
pensive, and quiet.
I loved (‘Amai trite parole che non uno osava’)
I loved trite words, that no one dared.
The flowery rhyme enchanted me
the oldest difficulty of all.
I loved the truth that lies in the deep;
an almost forgotten dream that sadness
finds a friend. With fear the heart
accosts it, that no longer deserts it.
I love you who hear me, who leave me
One decent card at the end of the game.
Winter Noon (‘In quel momento ch’ero già felice’)
At that moment when I was still happy
(God forgive that great and terrible
word) what almost changed my joy
to tears? You’ll say: ‘Some
lovely creature passing by
that smiled at you.’ No, a balloon,
a turquoise balloon, drifting
through the blue sky, with the native
air never so bright, in the cold
clear noon of a winter’s day.
The sky with a little white cloud,
and the windows alight in the sun,
and meagre smoke from a chimney or two,
and, above those things, divine
things, the sphere that escaped a child’s
incautious hand (surely, he wept,
in the midst of the crowd, out of grief,
his terrible grief) between the Stock
Exchange and the Coffee House where
I sat, clear-eyed, admiring his prize,
beyond the glass, now rising, now falling.
Ulysses (‘Nella mia giovinezza ho navigato’)
In the days of my youth, I sailed
the Dalmatian Coast. Tiny islands
emerged on the face of the sea,
slippery, weed-covered, sun-bright as emeralds,
where sometimes a bird perched, intent on prey.
When high tide and night annulled them, sails
downwind dispersed more widely,
or fled from danger. Today my kingdom
is precisely that no-man’s-land.
The harbour scatters its light for others;
an untamed spirit drives me onward,
and a sorrowful love of life.
Mediterranean (‘Penso un mare lontano, un porto, ascose’)
I think of a distant sea, a harbour, the hidden
streets of that harbour where once I was;
and am here, raising my hands once more
to beg the gods not to punish me,
for the final victory I disdain
(yet my heart, for sweetness, can hardly bear)
I think of a gloomy Siren,
– kisses, drunkenness, delirium – I think of Ulysses,
rising there from a melancholy bed.
Star (‘Stella, che m’hai veduto un giorno nascere’)
Star, that saw me born one day,
– crossing the sky when I first appeared –
in fair exchange for all the ills,
that, naked and helpless, I received
let me soon, gladly, reach the other
shore, every line cancelled, injustice
silent, loneliness a burden no more,
beyond your orbit that I’ll reach,
O you that crossed the sky, fatally.
Ulysses (‘O tu che sei si triste ed hai presagi’)
O you who are so sad and feel presentiments
of horrors – Ulysses, in decline – is there no
sweetness distilled in your spirit
for a pale
dreamer of shipwrecks
who loves you?
Amorous Melancholy (‘Malinconia amorosa’)
of the heart
like a secret care, a solitary fervour,
ever more intimate and deeper,
through you a sweet thought’s married
to a bitter memory,
dispels the boredom festering inside,
and accompanies you then through life.
The amorous melancholy
of the youth behind the counter
seated there, who sees,
bent o’er the fabrics, the loveliest
women of the city; a dark torment
to the dreamer
who with the first stars, already
shedding a little light on his path,
thinks of those who know what love is,
and its anguish,
climbs the long stony slope of the hill,
from which the houses and the church above
look like toys, the workaday city
fading into the still bright horizon,
and with exaggerated pride, wounded
by life, is close to madness.
of my life,
the first and last wound of the heart;
that, to gather your fruits,
seeks waning shadows, dark places,
and, wandering slowly, by the wall,
fails to see what everybody sees,
and what no one else sees, adores.
Whitethorn (‘Di marzo per la via’)
In March, in the street
of the fountain,
the hedge has woken;
all white, but it’s not snow
this it’s hawthorn,
quivering at the first
sigh of dawn.
Summer Night (‘Dalla stanza vicina ascolto care’)
From the next room, I hear dear
voices, in the bed where I welcome sleep.
Through the open window, gleams a light,
far off, on the hill; who knows where?
Here, I hold you to my heart, my love,
dead to me now, for endless years.
Our Moment (‘Sai un’ora del giorno che più bella’)
Do you know a more beautiful time of day
than evening? More
beautiful and less loved? That hour
which precedes the sacred hours of idleness;
the hour when work is intense, and a crowd
of people are seen in the streets;
above, the squared mass of the houses,
a shadowy moon, one you can scarcely
discern in the quiet air.
It’s the time you abandon the countryside
to take joy in your dear city,
from the gulf to the mountains
various aspects in its beauty unite;
the hour when my life in flood flows
like a river to the sea;
and my thoughts: the swift tread
of the crowd, the workman atop
his ladder, the boy racing to leap
on his rumbling cart, all seem
to freeze in the act, all motion
acquires the look of immobility.
It is the great hour, the hour that best
attends our time of harvesting.
The Leaf (‘Io sono come quella foglia, guarda’)
I am like that leaf, look,
on the bare branch, to which wonder
Ignore me then. Don’t be saddened
by my vast age that fills you with anxiety,
and lingers here in childish outbursts.
Wish me farewell, though there’s no need to say it.
Dying is nothing; it’s losing you is hard.
Nietzsche (‘Intorno a una grandezza solitaria’)
Around a solitary greatness
no birds fly, nor do those wanderers
make their nests nearby, you hear
nothing but silence, see nothing but air.
Amor (‘Ti dico addio quando ti cerco Amore’)
I say farewell when I look for you Amor,
As my age, and these grey hairs, demand.
Oh, in you was the shadow of Earth and Sun,
And the heart of a boy lacking heart.
Homeward (‘Anima, se ti pare che abbastanza’)
If it seems to you, my spirit, we have wandered
for long enough to have reached evening,
shall we enter our room, close the door,
and there create something of the Spring?
Trieste, new city
of adolescent masculinity
grown without form without measure
between the harsh hills and the sea
where there’s been no time for art
or, if there has, it’s in the hearts
of those who live here, in its youthful
colour, its varied movement;
we’ve explored it all, to the furthest
corner, this strangest of cities.
Now that with evening the need
revives to return also to ourselves,
shall we enter, where with deep love
I hear you, where you can make good
an ancient error?
From the most relentless of pains,
from harshest and deepest misery,
my spirit, we’ll make a poem today.
Drunken Songs (‘Ebbri canti si levano e bestemmie’)
Drunken songs and blasphemies rise
from the suburban hostelry. This too
– I know – is the Mediterranean. And my thoughts
are drunk on the azure of that name.
Rome is impregnable maternal calm.
Greece falls in love with its shores
like an adolescent. Judea darkens
and renews the world. No other beneath
the sun so smiles on me in my old age.
Ancient lost sea…Even the Muse,
born of you, wishes me to speak
one word of you, with darkness at the door.
From a Hill (‘Era d’ottobre; l’ora vespertina’)
It was October; the evening hour
Filled with peace, and the heart with sweetness;
The path solitary on the hill,
Climbing behind an ox, and a farmer.
At the summit, I glimpsed, in splendour,
Trieste, the churches, the coastline,
And in a grove, like a crimson flower,
A beloved house on the further slope.
The ringing from the belltowers reached me,
And as the sun set on the horizon
It made the windows of the houses burn.
I leaned against a pine-tree, blissfully,
I lifted a low branch there, sighing,
And gave a name, a dear name, to the breeze.
Via del Monte (‘A Trieste ove son tristezze molte’)
In Trieste, where there are many sorrows,
and beauties of sky and cityscape,
there’s a hill called the Via del Monte.
It starts with a synagogue,
and ends in a cloister; mid-way
there’s a chapel; from it, a dark ardour
for life might discover a meadow,
the sea with ships, and the promontory,
the crowds and stalls of the market.
And, on the hill’s flank, a cemetery,
abandoned now, where no funeral parties
have appeared, no burials, for as long
as I can remember, the old cemetery
of the Jews; so dear to my thoughts,
as I think of you, my ancestors, after all
your sufferings and dealings, buried there,
all alike in spirit, and in face.
Index by First Line
- I traversed the whole city.
- I loved trite words, that no one dared.
- At that moment when I was still happy.
- In the days of my youth, I sailed.
- I think of a distant sea, a harbour, the hidden.
- Star, that saw me born one day,
- O you who are so sad and feel presentiments.
- Amorous melancholy.
- In March, in the street
- From the next room, I hear dear
- Do you know a more beautiful time of day.
- I am like that leaf, look,
- Around a solitary greatness.
- I say farewell when I look for you Amor,
- If it seems to you, my spirit, we have wandered.
- Drunken songs and blasphemies rise.
- It was October; the evening hour
- In Trieste, where there are many sorrows,
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved
Subject to certain exceptions, this work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.