Approaching a poem written in another time and/or place, the translator faces a literal dilemma, a double problem of conflicting loyalties. . .
I set off walking south on the shoulder / Of these high cliffs, through kissing gates and over stiles, when summer / Was a crude suggestion yet among the broom and gorse.
An excerpt from Marc di Saverio’s epic poem Crito Di Volta. Here, after some introductory material, Crito delivers his sermon on the mount, as it were. . .
Picture T. S. Eliot as Magus, stopping a rain drop mid-air,
asking of it how it turns the world on its head, inquiring
whence it came. . .
This quiet roof where doves stray and dip
Pulsates between the pines, the tombs.
Out of fire even-handed noon composes
The sea, the sea, ever recommencing.
O what recompense after thought’s travail
This long gazing on the gods’ repose!
As I came drifting down unruffled rivers,
I could no longer feel the haulers’ guiding pulls.
Redskins had taken the boatmen for bull’s-eyes
and, hooting, nailed them naked to painted poles.
A remarkable translation by di Saverio of Canto I from Dante’s Inferno prepares the reader for when Crito meets Dante. . .
The salmon is still in the noiseless black; she was quick-silvered star to the ship whose hull has sunk below the bottom of the lake.
The spotted hogs trot past to the abattoir.
Their flanks are mired with fear-dung, and they squeal.
Belle and Sebastian are coming to town…