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.

Poems by Francesca Farina

Oct 8, 2021 | Poetry | 1 comment

Translated from the Italian by Patrick Williamson
Repertory of skies.
Giotto                          cobalt and distilled sorrow
Beato Angelico           whispering madonnas and winged angels
Andrea del Castagno               storm and grief
Piero della Francesca              torn velvet
Botticelli                     flowing water and anguish
Perugino                      Oriental opal and smile
Mantegna                    breath of the sun
Bellini                         nostalgia for Paradise and purple, ravaged sea
Raphael                                   opaque emerald
Caravaggio                              dark horror
Canaletto                     silk, butterflies and languorou roses
Turner                         pure gold in the splendour of twilight
Poussin                        lapis lazuli and angry wind
Lorrain                        mist of jade and weeping
Vermeer                                  satin melancholy
Monet                                      water lilies and dew
Savinio                        divine Olympus
Scipio                          lust and blood

Not the sky of Rome
Unique, timeless
in all its glory.

__

SHOAH (1)

They’re taking them all away.
Yes, they’re taking them all away, all of them.
When? Now. Immediately.
They’re taking them all away, all of them.
For no reason. There is no reason.
The cry will always be a cry, always.
The cry will always resound, always.
What about the children? Don’t the children cry out?
You have to hear them. It’s madness.
And the grown-ups? Don’t grown-ups suffer?
What about old people? Don’t old people feel?
Their skin is so fragile…
And the heart? Their hearts? Don’t hearts suffer?
Breath? Oxygen? Is there no need for that?
How do you manage without oxygen?
What about water? Water is rationed too.
Gas, bread, wood…
It’s cold, in the house, outside, in our bones.
Me? Who am I? And the others?
Life? Gone, all life gone.

__

SHOAH (2)

Everything is dead now:
you can open the window,
there’s a little dull wind,
sirocco, no playthings
in this glimpse of evening,
no prayer, no God
of the morning, hope, litany
of the dead, all lost
in ravines, earth –
the same earth of flowers, gladioli,
the same earth of strawberry trees, daffodils –
but now that the stove’s cold
and the dishes are ready, the food waiting
to be eaten,
you don’t think about the earth,
one sinks one’s hands between the stems
of cutlery, the forks,
the napkins pressed and clean,
you caress the glasses,
kiss the bowls
and flutter eyelashes at eyes
turned to looks…
It’s late.

__

Hematology clinic (1)

I, too, have been a living body,
don’t look at me now
I can hardly breathe
in this very same hospital
the material place of health and illness,
forget – if you can – these hands of mine
bare, stained, trembling,
my exhausted lips, my eyes
dazzled by the pallor of my face,
no more laughter at my bedside,
how the needle hurts so,
not content with digging into the network
of veins, once stainless arteries,
overlapping bones, fingertips…
How beautiful the wasted
minutes, lost afternoons,
empty, eventless Sundays,
privations, while the sirocco on the windows
misted the plane trees on the river
the Aniene beyond terraces ambered
by the sunset (for I turned to the West
and every balcony in this stretch
of the new and already unmade district,
the Tiburtina, Rebibbia where you were
already, Pasolini, poet repudiated
by the petty, privateer and lutheran,
in these alleys of illegal borgate,
grown up crippling the countryside,
the flat valley of the Aniene)
how beautiful the minutes, the hours
of certain Saturdays without consolation,
the uncertain love, the lost good,
the pains.

__

Hematology clinic (2)

Pain that comes unsalted
And you, cerebro-spinal ganglion
Vibrating in the dark gravity of everything
Pure pain and sweetness
Gasping of a dead soul
Gasping of the body undone
Sound and shining night
Splendour in the darkness of the senses
Abandoned to the currents of eyes
Drowy looks
Cream and honey of sleep
Steel and lead shoes
Dark root of evil
Bottomless being, sea
Latrine of the world, bold
Storm of dreams, deadly sword
That harms the cerebro-spinal ganglia
Power of the senses, death
Soft thighs of sleep
Splendour of comfort, cloud-bearer
Gravity of snow, gladioli
Scattered curls of sleep
Greatness of hidden glaciers
Pyramids of perennial snows
Senseless storms of the heart

_

Hematology clinic (3)

Who knows, my dear,
on what dark, gloomy edge
cruel weather will strand us,
to what unusual port
the huge slow-planking ship
will lead us, hostile,
barely bumping against the quay,
whether hospital ship or sedan chair,
coffin or kite
balloon braked
enchanted reed swaying
to the purple waves of a summer sunset…
Who knows, abusing our patience,
or rather my impatience,
what gifts, juicy or bitter fruits, it will bring.
bandages, gauze, white bandages or flowers…
morphine or melatonin,
carnitine or vitamin,
dear, flesh of my flesh
you are not, but flesh we are
both of us and ashes we shall be
or maybe rainbow foam
clary blood
flake of cloud and piece of sky.

__

Francesca Farina is an Italian poet, writer, literary critic and culture professional. She has published a number of poetry works and a novel, Casa di mortin(www.bertonieditore.it). Literary awards or mentions include the Premio Internazionale di Poesia Eugenio Montale, Premio Tracce-Pablo Neruda, Premio Nazionale per il Sonetto Renato Fucini, and the Premio Scriveredonna. She has organized many cultural events over the past twenty years, notably L’Isola dei Poeti, Leopardi’s Day and the Poets’ Marathon in Rome. Editorial coordinator of the Miele poetry collection at Bertoni Editore and literary critic for the Sapienza University website (www.italinemo.it) and academic journal Esperienze letterarie. Most recent publication: Parma. Omaggio in versi, a poetry anthology edited by Francesca Farina and Luca Ariano.

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Most recent poetry collections: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014), Nel Santuario (SE, 2013; Menzione speciale della Giuria in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014). Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012) and translator notably of Max Alhau (France), Tahar Bekri (Tunisia), Gilles Cyr (Quebec), as well as Italian poets Guido Cupani and Erri de Luca. Recent translations in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, and poems in The Black Bough, The Fortnightly Review notably. Longstanding collaborator with artists’ book publisher Transignum, member of the editorial committee of La Traductière, and founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

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