Winter Noon

At that moment when I was happy

(God forgive me the word so vast,

so tremendous), who drove almost to tears

my brief joy? You will say, some

beautiful creature passing

who smiled. No, a balloon instead,

a stray blue balloon

in the blue air, and my native

sky as never before, clear and cold,

noon winter resplendent

sky with some white clouds

and the windows of the houses, sun blazing,

tenuous smoke from one or two chimneys,

the divine in every

thing, globe by the incautious hand

of a child escaped. He cried

in the crowd, his pain

his great pain in Stock

Exchange Square, where I sat in a café

admiring through the glass with shining

eyes the climb or fall of its goodness.

 

(Translated from the Italian by Paula Bohince)

__

Mezzogiorno d’inverno

In quel momento ch’ero già felice

(Dio mi perdoni la parola grande

e tremenda) chi quasi al pianto spinse

mia breve gioia? Voi direte: “Certa

bella creatura che di là passava,

e ti sorrise”. Un palloncino invece,

un turchino vagante palloncino

nell’azzurro dell’aria, ed il nativo

cielo non mai come nel chiaro e freddo

mezzogiorno d’inverno risplendente.

Cielo con qualche nuvoletta bianca,

e i vetri delle case al sol fiammanti,

e il fumo tenue d’uno due camini,

e su tutte le cose, le divine

cose, quel globo dalla mano incauta

d’un fanciullo sfuggito (egli piangeva

certo in mezzo alla folla il suo dolore,

il suo grande dolore) tra il Palazzo

della Borsa e il Caffé dove seduto

oltre i vetri ammiravo io con lucenti

occhi or salire or scendere il suo bene.

 

 

 

 

Umberto Saba (1883-1957) was born as Umberto Poli in Trieste and became one of the most important figures in Italian Twentieth Century poetry. He also wrote prose and served as a soldier in World War I. He died in Gorizia, Italy.

Paula Bohince is the author of three poetry collections, including Swallows and Waves (Sarabande, Jan. 2016). Her translations from the Italian have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Agni, PN Review, and the Journal of Italian Translation. She lives in Pennsylvania.

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