Skip to content

Lorenzo Calogero: Six poems.

Translated from the Italian
by JOHN TAYLOR.

SO ALONE I am looking at poor clouds
and objects in the emptiness
of the high sunray; then hiding away
where no shadow dwells anymore
or no one at all. Truth deceives
or rises up so thickly veiled,
a strange, pale fact
on the wall seemingly flying off
so slowly. It teaches deep
quiet nighttime or pauses that were
inert in the ocean. So sometimes I wonder,
wonder.

Cosí solo povere nubi guardo
ed oggetti nel vuoto
nell’alto raggio; poi mi nascondo
dove non è piú ombra
o nessuno. Le verità ingannano
o insorgono in un velo
cosí fitto, fatto pallido e strano
sulla parete in un volo di essere
da sembrare già tardo. Insegna quiete
profonda notte o pause che furono
inerti nell’oceano. Cosí a volte interrogo
e domando a me stesso.

da Come in dittici, OP1, p. 105.

* * *

I NO LONGER know, no longer know myself,
know what I ask, if the vaporous sunbeam
was tugging the entire cloud
into the useless evening light
or if her bleak blushing
appeared to me as the anxious object
of a sign. Your fleeting nudities
were following at a distance,
as I watched your lips tugging as if from an album,
from a drawing.

Io piú non so, piú non mi conosco,
non so che chiedo, se il raggio vaporoso
che traeva nel suo insieme la nuvola
nella luce inutile del vespero
o ciò che nel deserto suo rossore
a me apparve oggetto trepido
d’un segno. Seguivano
a distanza le nudità tue labili,
le labbra che vidi trarre come di un album
da un disegno.

da Come in dittici, OP1, p. 96.

* * *

YOUR MOUTH GREW
with rainwater and a light
was a faint sigh full of its time
and, once joined, didn’t suit your street.
I don’t know which limits which lineaments they were,
a plus or a minus, a kind of motion,
your time growing so fast
in the vain vacuum
toward one who loved you.

S’accrebbe la tua bocca
d’acqua piovana e un lume
era tenue sospiro pieno del suo tempo
e, giunto, non s’accordava alla tua strada.
Non so che limiti che lineamenti erano,
un piú o un meno, un moto,
un crescere veloce del tuo tempo
nel vano vuoto
verso uno che ti amava.

da Come in dittici, OP1, p. 32.

* * *

EVEN IF I turn and return
I don’t know how much she already was
or was tomorrow or is a tangle
of bodies. And even if wealth
is no commotion of time,
something already lingers, I see
the bare spots in the woods taking shape,
time’s numbers, intense beckoning.
From here they speak
of a season apart from her
or of inert things and, from thing
to thing, the origin is already real,
an image of an infertile land’s
vertigo
inside the selfsame death
tormenting it.

I knew how much the beckoning persisted
in the meadows; to the roots they tell
of the silences, the winding roads,
deep in the seas, and, whatever,
at one point the edge of a dike
was carved in the waters,
a shelter so solitary was born
one day as its fragile body was resting.

Fervent clouds are distilling drops
once left aside or dried up,
now shining on the banisters of air
where a life tries out a form
flowing into its own varied self.
At times solid snowy smoke
moves in, a dim disk
left behind, a mute
meniscus in the hollow of the hands,
underground. No longer does the gray haze
beat relentlessly against
the no longer aching forehead. Over the dirt,
arriving from an impalpable
mass, it’s the selfsame hand
sprinkling it.

Se pure mi volgo e ritorno
indietro non so quant’ ella già era
o era domani o è un viluppo
di corpi; e purché la ricchezza
non è la commozione del tempo,
qualcosa già resta, vedo formati
i luoghi nudi dei boschi, i numeri
del tempo, intensi i richiami.
A partire da qui parlano
di una stagione fuori di essa
o di cose inerti e, di cosa
in cosa, è già vera l’origine,
un’immagine di una vertigine
di una stagione infeconda
della medesima morte
che la tormenta.

Sapevo quanto assidui erano sui prati
i richiami; a le radici essi narrano
i silenzi, ondulanti le vie,
dentro i mari, e, comunque,
in un punto era un margine
di un argine scavato dentro acque,
un rifugio così solitario che nacque
un di’ nel riposo del corpo suo fragile.

Stillano gocciole fervide nuvole
rimaste in disparte o aride
brillano su balaustrate d’aria,
dove una vita tenta una forma
che in se stessa varia si versa.
Un fermo fumo niveo
a volte subentra, un fievole
disco lasciato alle spalle,
tacito menisco dal cavo delle mani,
sotterra. Non più la nebbia
grigia batte assidua alla tempia
che non più duole. Sulla terra,
entrata da impalpabile
mole, è la medesima mano
che la rovescia.

da Come in dittici, OP1, p. 73.

* * *

I KNOW A rarified wave with air.
It was more pungent than joy.
Crowds of clouds rejoice
in an hour of the day
closed in on itself. Fleshy, the sunlight’s wing
was all around and chastened. Blazing
and blushing stop, pass from a hand
into the chest. A cypress
did not conform. A clay vase
full of ancient hurricanes retains the warmth.

Space was a patch of sky, an idle storm
drifting gently by,
keeping to itself or lingering.

So rarefatta onda con aria.
Ell’era pungente piú della gioia.
Si allietano folle di nuvole
nell’ora del giorno
chiusa in sé sola. Carnosa era intorno
e castigata un’ala di sole. Incendio
e rossore si fermano e passano da una mano
nel petto. Non era conforme
un cipresso. Un vaso d’argilla
d’antichi uragani conserva il tepore.

Un lembo era lo spazio, una vana tempesta
che soavemente scivola,
si isola o resta.

da Come in dittici, OP1, p. 70.

* * *

I KNOW I’VE never seen you,
ever. A gentleness
is seated here,
an arranged series or an event
and a violent hello.

A larva it was or a lady
and once seen she blazes up.
Why does she turn back so fast?
Wished for or not
she was a form.

So di non averti veduto
mai. Una dolcezza
è qui seduta,
schierata serie o vicenda
e violenta saluta.

Una larva era o una donna
e s’incendia veduta.
Perché rapida torna?
Voluta o non voluta
era una forma.

da Come in dittici, OP1, p. 163.


taylor-calgeroAlthough he was admired by leading poets of the Italian “hermetic” movement, Lorenzo Calogero (1910-1961) has long remained a major overlooked figure in Italian poetry. His collected poems were first gathered in a two-volume Opere Poetiche (Lerici Editori, 1962 / 1966) and in a representative selection, Poesie (Rubbettino Editore, 1986). Recently, new editions of his work have appeared, notably Avaro nel tuo pensiero (Donzelli, 2014), Poco Suono (Nuove Edizioni Barbaro, 2011) and especially Parole del tempo (Donzelli, 2010). A revival of interest in his work is definitely underway. He sporadically worked as a medical doctor, spent time confined to mental asylums, and seems to have committed suicide in his house in Meliccucà (Calabria), but the circumstances of his death were never entirely clarified. The poems presented here have been selected from the posthumously published manuscript Come in dittici (As in Diptychs), included in the first volume of the Opere Poetiche.

John Taylor usually translates contemporary French poetry (Philippe Jaccottet, Jacques Dupin, Louis Calaferte, José-Flore Tappy, Pierre-Albert Jourdan), but in 2013 he won the Raiziss-de Palchi Translation Fellowship from the American Academy of Poets for his project to produce a generous representative selection of the work of the Italian poet Lorenzo Calogero. The poems published here are included in this project. He is a contributing editor of The Fortnightly Review, writes the “Poetry Today” column in the Antioch Review and is a regular contributor to The Arts Fuse and the Times Literary Supplement. His most recent personal books are The Apocalypse Tapestries (Xenos, 2004) and If Night Is Falling (Bitter Oleander Press, 2012). He lives in France.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *
*
*

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.