Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

The Elegy & Other Poems— Amalia Guglielminetti

Oct 27, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Italian by Alani Hicks-Bartlett 
The Elegy 

I will sing the elegy of the heart that never sleeps:
my rhythm is uniform, my voice monotonous.

It is the gathered nocturnal voice of she who keeps watch,
and who hears the song, by itself, pour forth, as if from an urn.

It is the lament that measures the tireless screeching of the woodworm,
the yearning to placate it, that only makes the torture greater.

I will sing the elegy of she who cannot find peace,
and nevertheless, always seeks it with new hope.

I will recount, without dissimulation, her good just like her evil
with the steadiest voice, and with the firmest breath.

And then when the song lifts every veil from the grieving heart,
I will sing in the sunlight the elegy that groans in the shadows.


We are alone in the world: everyone lives in the midst of a desert.
Nothing is certain for us except for this profound abyss.

And the adjoining circumstances of men, and the dreams, and all things
are like indistinct shadows vanishing above sinister, dying suns.

At times, love, like a go-between, brings two lonely people together.
It deceives them at first, then, oblivious and nameless, it casts them apart.

All those who love their pride, their truth, or their error,
are but mournful travelers clinging to life, at the top of a cliff.

At the first caresses of the waves and the wind, they deceive themselves,
but soon their fear of the vast expanse burdens them.

Nor is there anything sadder than the unbridgeable chasm,
than the shadow that somberly accumulates between those who live and those who live.


Insomnia destroys me this restless night,
the little, wrathful woodworm of anxiety keeping vigil over the immense darkness.

Insistent, and voracious, it almost consumes my flesh,
my ear almost doesn’t take in the never-ending clamor.

It seems to me that it fills the night with a long lament;
I feel it persist in the throbbing of my temples.

The darkness envelops me in maelstroms; I widen my eyes
it seems like the shadow touches me, that it surrounds me, wave by wave.

It is like a whirlpool or a lazy river that sweeps me away with it,
which in a blind silence carries me through the swirling foam.

Where to? To the sweet champions of sleep? Oh no, until dawn,
insomnia gnaws at me, ruthlessly, hour by hour.

One Evening

I let the new evening fall on my old evil
another evening equal to a hundred that have gone by, or even blacker.

I spent the day wrapped in my gloomy suffering,
even calling once again to a love without return.

Wrapped around myself, and, like a twisted serpent
as cold as a dead woman, coiled around my genuflecting soul.

And another night descends from the heavens, veiled in black,
and it wraps its gloomy bandages around my mind.

Its darkness thickens around my taciturn heart,
binding my intense soul with its grave nocturnal stupor.

And so the pain that eats away at me, is calmed by fraternal night,
pressing its soft palm over my eyes, merciful.

The Escape 

I was walking along a path that echoed like the ground of cemeteries.
Was it today? Yesterday? Have I been walking for a year, or for an hour?

I was completely without memory of time and place, undone
by agony, a base thing just thrown there, discarded remains, waste.

I had surpassed the farthest limit, beyond which the pain
endured is already greater than us, it is already detached from us.

I was walking along scorched by my unconscious desire for flight:
I was fleeing my wickedness, my mortal dread, and the lacerating terror.

I was walking with the unwitting movements of an automaton,
with all my volition destroyed, aside from the desire to keep moving.

And there was a tacit secret between me and my path
in that escape with no hope of relief, with no purpose.

Also, read a German poem by Martin Heidegger , translated into English by Eric v.d. Luft, and published in The Antonym.

Loneliness— A German Poem by Martin Heidegger

Follow The Antonym’s Facebook page  and Instagram account  for more content and exciting updates.

Amalia Guglielminetti (1881-1941) was a prolific Torinese poet and writer, whose main poetic contributions are her collections Le seduzioni (The Seductions, 1908) and L’insonne (The Insomniac, 1913). L’insonne, from which the poems included here are taken, is a simultaneously troubling and comforting collection, organized in sections like ‘Recovery’ (La guarigione), ‘Meditations’ (Meditazioni), and ‘Final Goodbyes’ (Gli adii). L’insonne offers a considered meditation on time, shadows, and the physical and metaphorical distance that separates loving people who rarely realize how isolated they are. The calm yet mournful voices that weave together throughout the collection yearn for the touch of others and regret the places and irrecuperable moments they have left behind. Despite her prolificacy, Guglielminetti’s haunting and beautiful poems have yet to receive the attention they deserve, particularly in English-language audiences.

Alani Rosa Hicks-Bartlett is a writer and translator from the Midwest, but now enjoys the Autumn foliage of the East Coast, where she finds herself increasingly in a nudiustertian mode. Her recent poems and translations have appeared in The Stillwater Review, IthacaLit, Gathering Storm, Broad River Review, The Fourth River, The Festival Review, Northwest Review, and Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism, and Translation, among others. She is currently at work on a series of translations of love poetry from Italian, Portuguese, and Medieval French, and a collection of villanelles.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ongoing Event

Ongoing Event

Upcoming Books

Ongoing Events

Antonym Bookshelf

You have Successfully Subscribed!