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"Nè più mai toccherò le sacre sponde..." -- Ugo Foscolo
To Zante (a translation of "A Zacinto" by Ugo Foscolo)
Nor ever more to touch the sacred shores Where I was cradled as a tiny boy, Zakynthos mine, mirroring in the waves Of the Greek sea whence Venus, virgin, rose And with her first smile fecundated all Those islands, so thy fronds and limpid clouds Entered unsilenced the illustrious tale Of him who sang the fateful waters and The roaming exile from whose changing paths Ulysses, splendid with ill-luck and fame, Returned to kiss his rocky Ithaca. Naught else thy son can give thee but his song, O my maternal earth: for us stern fate Prescribed an unlamented burial.Translation © Carl Selph, 1999Song (a translation of "Canción" by Lope de Vega)I'll pick no more verbena The morning of Saint John Because my loves are gone. I'll pick no more verbena That sweetened all the air Nor wear the creamy lilies And red roses in my hair. I'll wear some thorns and thistles From an abandoned lawn Because my loves are gone. I'll pick no more verbena The morning of Saint John Because my loves are gone.Translation © Carl Selph, 1994 First published in Blue UnicornImitation (a translation of "Imitazione" by Giacomo Leopardi)Far from your bough, Poor frail leaf, Where goest thou? "From the beech--- There where I budded forth--- The wind divided me. Returning suddenly, From wood to open fields, From valley to mountain he carried me. With him I go an endless pilgrimage, All else ignore. I go where all things go, Where naturally goes The leaf of the rose, The leaf of the green laurel tree."Translation © Carl Selph, 1999Twenty Centuries (a translation of "Veinte Siglos" by Alfonsina Storni)To tell you, Love, of my desire for you-- no false instinctive blushes at the words-- was to be bound, Prometheus, in view of all. One evening I slipped those cords. It took two thousand years to move my hand, to tell you without blushing, with no fright, the loves that build my life are made of light. Just twenty centuries to lift my hand. Arrows pass narrowly above my hair-- those whetted darts the wind has always worn. Millenia of burdens I have borne. I knew their weight when they turned into air. Believe my arm not strong but weak as breath-- for ages, at its task, palsied, feeble; but I've come whole into this miracle: I leave my crag accompanied by death.Translation © Carl Selph, 1999Fantasy for a Beginning of Spring (a translation of "Fantasia per un inizio di primavera" by Sandro Penna)They watch me now no more--- your dark, infernal eyes. I feel wings born in me, already scan the skies. Across the meadow's green the light, black trains make way and, blessedly, forget stations of yesterday. Now here---the clock face stunned by hours that stop and sing--- a vagrant love returns for every wandering thing. Departing's still no pain if you refuse to know--- oblivious---how deep the valleys fill with snow.Translation © Carl Selph, 1999
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