It is an important occasion for all of us at The Antonym today. It is the International Translation Day ! To mark this occasion, we have been celebrating Translation Month throughout the month of September. As a part of that, a competition was announced wherein submissions were requested for translations of three poems from one’s mother tongue to English. We received an overwhelming number of submissions and we are happy to announce that we have chosen the four best entries! The following set of three poems by Valerio Grut, originally written in Italian, and translated to English by Patrick Willaimson, is one among the selected entries.
Translated from the Italian by Patrick Williamson
They’d closed August that day
with lemons on their eyes
I didn’t know anything yet
about aperitifs and Burton films
I was playing football
with the goalkeeper’s jersey
in the middle of the big zabaglione
where Naples floats
in the waiting room
they took the goldfish’s water away
the storm doctor said close the doors left ajar
they loaded darkness at the back of the neck and shot
it was an elephant with spindly legs
and didn’t take long to fall
it was the last Via Santa Lucia
that left the gulf shyly
they saw a flock rise in flight
from the cold square of my mother’s bed
they took the man away
they uprooted his hands from mine
when he returns he will stand before Antonio’s eyes
and in Maria’s arms like the son she never had
when he returns it will not be dark in the corridor
he will sit down at the table and say: “why did you wait so long…
you could have started”.
This open heart
can welcome everything:
bottle glass, floods,
tree roots, entire motorways,
concrete casting, constellations.
You pass without ducking your head
you and the death star, stilts,
the collapse of a dam.
This heart that opened
can hold everything, trembles
as a washer in the fury of a spin
and it’s here, it’s yours.
How do I wash these dishes
let Giulia’s past grudges
If I wash the knife remove
from her mind the familiar
wounds, the sharp looks
that dug into her breast.
If I wash the glass I will remove
the bitch boredom of waiting
the useless regularity of a day
no calls no visitors.
If I wash the pot it purifies the heart
so it may be free from disappointment.
And this word doesn’t remain poetry
but breaks the glass
goes back to infinity and arrives right
at the center of the universe.
Also, read the other winning entries for Translation Month, published in The Antonym:
Also, please join The Antonym Global Translators’ Community Facebook group to stay engaged in interesting conversations about everything that concerns translations!