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Ten poems by Francesco Giardinazzo.

Translations by HOYT ROGERS.

1.

A MELODY: THE LAST OF THE WIND

The wave precedes the wind, in its ending. Astonished, we watch as impossible miracles chase one another. Raw, the heart: an ultramarine bitterness brightens every stone, without bounds and without hope. Terrible, and stupendous, how the sky devours the earth.

2.

RELIQUARY

Flush with light, the thirsty wall keeps an eye on the psalm of rain. I must leave, my love, but from a safe distance I will listen to you, like the flower that sprouts from stone when it is roused by the roots of time.

3.

GLIMPSED IN A LETTER

“…only poets come
at that price,” you were writing,
that mixture of hot and cold
in steadfast desire.
Voices crack and vanish,
just as pages never read
introduce the occasion,
project light
where nature loves to hide.

The distance in thought
weaves fragments of sky:
a woman, graceful muse,
teaches error and its salvation,
doesn’t recall those who outrage
the black noise that writes
pages like this one or others,
something that surfaces
instead of remaining night.

4.

WHAT THEY THINK OF HELL

The profile of hell is exile
a meeting brief enough
to imagine eternity and
the stubborn end, the tender
cross-examination before
a farewell, the foreign
distance and the light in a sorrow
like this, the famished prisoner
of a fate.

5.

PAINLESS

Before these landscapes, the nest of pity is tortured. Helplessly, unconditionally, here we resign ourselves—in this mute and heedless emergency, deaf to all cajoling or advice. In her distance she repeats the usual images to me, at times in starts and stops, at times as a fevered building, not yet in ruins, that only I can see. I lock myself in silence, I cling to time that has this to give me—staying mindful in my distress of a generosity I cannot forget. I am her friend, and I believe that all is set out as an order, savored with humility each day—a habit that never contains itself but always asks, asks for something else, asks us to be amazed by tiny daisies that poke through the stones and still bear a promise. Somehow, I think all this has a place in her heart as well. I don’t dare to call it hope: my strength doesn’t reach that far. Perhaps I can think I have dreamed that it is so, and this is enough for me. Yes, once again I must transcribe the sentence that goes with me everywhere now: “This is the final conclusion of wisdom: only those who know how to conquer each day deserve freedom and life.”

Seen from here, the stars seem painless, and even kinder than the night. Seen from here, the past seems soundless, without mistakes—all has been done, all has been said. And so I could leave it behind. From here I could go back to where I have never been, could find you again and smile with you, could relive my days one by one, and never know what I have now learned. Time will never burn like the time that up there, when I think of you, seems to hold no more pain.

6.

MEMOIR OF ODYSSEUS (A DIPTYCH)

I

The circle of earth
is your heart

a plot of stars
has taught me
how to trace it

like more certain light

the light
that from afar
pervades
every depth
as if suspended
in an eternity
in this sea
where I seek you

The circle of earth
is where I dwell

II

Love,
my innocent
spring
my sense
of passion veiled
in passion

silence is
here revealed,
the spider web
the majesty
that I write

growing the flower
and the shade
so you recline with me
in unrelenting
snares
of wind

7.

TO DAPHNE

There is no fire more gentle
than the hair you stir with your fair hand
distant from the god of my past
from the passion of innocent waiting
unforgotten confine where
you smile defeating me
like no one before
not to wound but to illumine
as the sea one day will light
your naked back.

8.

WANDER / ERR

As for me
the force of wandering
is a bitter wafer
in the fasting of an imperfect
tense.

It’s like
a blind
window
open
on all the landscapes
shrunk in the hand
that holds the book,
the missing hinterland
of error.

9.

TO RIMBAUD

If you live like this,
you know,
as you’ve always known,
looking at each other from two moving trains
where the image brushes by almost blurred…

(maybe it was really better
to forget each other

—in life we always leave a trace,
a smudged sideways message
in haste).

Fringes of light and innocence
xxxxflash between magnolias and ragged hedges
xxxxxxxxtrail behind testaments
xxxxxxxxxxxxof oceanic flights
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxdespairs never seen or said, out to
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxsea where the shadow of a
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxremote afternoon races past,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxtilted by the lowering light
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxfar-off in the islands of the south.

10.

LAST

We have returned
my wind my writing
today is still red
a pomegranate flower
like hope
at the beginning
of a cry.


Francesco Giardinazzo’s principal poetry collection is Il Sogno di Fidia (The Dream of Phidias), forthcoming at Almayer Edizioni. His lengthy bibliography includes translations from the ancient Greek as well as studies of Dante, Leopardi, D’Annunzio, Pirandello, Hölderlin, Flaubert, Broch, Pound, Ungaretti, Zanzotto, Pasolini, W. C. Williams, Heaney, and many other authors. He also writes about jazz and the fine arts, and is an active dramatist. He teaches Italian Literature and Communications at the University of Bologna. He lives in Forlì, Romagna.

Original text | Translator’s note | Index

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