Insomnia

September 17, 2009

I’ve been suffering lately from a strange pre-dawn restlessness. Insomnia is tough to enjoy, but at least it’s given me some quiet hours to finish translating this poem by Ungaretti about sleepless nights.

ungaretti

Giugno
Campolongo il 5 luglio 1917
[poem by Guiseppe Ungaretti; translation by Dan Stone]

Quando
mi morirà
questa notte
e come un altro
potrò guardarla
e mi addormenterò
al fruscio
delle onde
che finiscono
di avvoltolarsi
alla cinta di gaggie
della mia casa

Quando mi risveglierò
nel tuo corpo
che si modula
come la voce dell’usignolo

Si estenua
come il colore
rilucente
del grano maturo

Nella trasparenza
dell’acqua
l’oro velino
della tua pelle
si brinerà di moro

Librata
dalle lastre
squillanti
dell’aria sarai
come una
pantera

Ai tagli
mobili
dell’ombra
ti sfoglierai

Ruggendo
muta in
quella polvere
mi soffocherai

Poi
socchiuderai le palpebre

Vedremo il nostro amore reclinarsi
come sera

Poi vedrò
rasserenato
nell’orizzonte di bitume
delle tue iridi morirmi
le pupille

Ora
il sereno è chiuso
come
a quest’ora
nel mio paese d’Affrica
i gelsomini

Ho perso il sonno

Oscillo
al canto d’una strada
come una lucciola

Mi morirà
questa notte?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

June
Campolongo, July 5, 1917

When
will this night
die for me
so like a stranger
I can look at it
and fall asleep
to the rustling
of the waves
that end
their tumbling
at the border of thorntrees
around my house

When will I awaken
inside your body
that modulates
like the voice of the nightingale

That exhausts itself
like the shimmering
color
of ripe grain
in the transparency
of water

The gold tissue
of your skin
will frost with darkness

Suspended
on the shrill
sheets
of air you will be
like a
panther

In the shifting
edges
of shadow
you will shed your foliage

Roaring
mute within
that dust
you will suffocate me

Then
you will half-close your eyelids

We will watch our love reclining
like dusk

Then
feeling more serene
I will see my pupils die
on the coal-black horizon
of your irises

Now
the sky is closed up
like
the jasmine
at this hour
in my African country

I have lost sleep

I flicker
on a street corner
like a firefly

Will this night
die for me?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: