August 06, 2006

[Meriggiare pallido e assorto] - Montale

To rest at noon, pale and absorbed
near a sun-blazed garden wall
to listen amongst the thorns and brakes
to the clatter of blackbirds, rustle of snakes.

In cracks of ground or on the vetch
to spy upon files of red ants
now breaking loose, now interweaving
on the summits of their tiny stacks.

To watch between green leaves the beating
of far away, scales of sea
while the quavering creak arises,
the cicada songs from bald peaks.

And going on into the dazzling sun
to feel with melancholy wonder
how all life and its travail is in
this tracking of a wall
with jagged glass set along its rim.

- Eugenio Montale (translated by Jill Jones)

This version of Montale's famous poem was published in the translation issue of Meanjin, Vol. 64, No. 4, in late 2005.

I should note my thanks to Anny Ballardini for her comments on an earlier version I did of this a couple of years ago which led me to make an important adjustment.


At 8:56 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you did a good job...

and it's a tough one to attempt...

i did one 40 years ago in a workshop, which is longlost and i was actually thinking of trying to do another...

To lean back at noon, pale with
Against a wall along whose top
Broken glass has been set to stop
Thieves' incursion: to rest and let

The tools fall from your hands . . .

I worked from the "plain prose" trans in Burnshaw's The Poem Itself (do you know that book?_

Keep up the good work! I hope you'll post some more...

At 3:57 pm, Anonymous Sarah Riegle Lemelin said...

I'd like to read more of Anonymous' riff on captures the mood for sure, and I especially like how the last line (with an explanation of what the broken glass is for!) has been so cleverly imported to the first verse.

At 4:56 am, Blogger QG said...

I'm curious to know what exactly 'biche' are. I think I read that this word actually refers to shocks of corn, more an agricultural term than anything else. What think you, dear translator?


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