La domenica dell’ulivo


Di Giovanni Pascoli


Hanno compiuto in questo dì gli uccelli

il nido (oggi è la festa dell’ulivo)

di foglie secche, radiche, fuscelli;

quel sul cipresso, questo su l’alloro,

al bosco, lungo il chioccolo d’un rivo,

nell’ombra mossa d’un tremolìo d’oro.

E covano sul musco e sul lichene

fissando muti il cielo cristallino,

con improvvisi palpiti, se viene

un ronzio d’ape, un vol di maggiolino.

Olive Sunday


By Giovanni Pascoli


They have prepared this day the birds

a nest (today is Olive Sunday)

of wilted shoots, roots and twigs;

one on the cypress, another on the laurel,

in the woods, along the shores of a torrent,

in the shadows moved by tremulous aurum.

And nesting on the moss and the lichen

in silence gazing at the crystal sky,

sudden throbbing when frightened

by the humming of a bee, the soaring of a fly.



Translation by ©Matilda Colarossi


Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912) was possibly the greatest Italian poet writing at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The poem, Olive Sunday, is from the collection Myricae, 1891-1903. The translation represented certain difficulties: enjambment in the verses 1 and 2; tricolon in verse 3; synesthesia in verse 6 “tremolio d’oro“; consonance in verse 3 (FOglie e FUscelli e tra secCHE e radiCHE; assonance in verse 5 (bOscO, lungO il chiOccOlO d’un rivO), which gives us a sense of darkness (also expressed in “ombra mossa” verse 6); assonance in verse 9 with the letter I (ImprovvIsI palpItI, se vIene); the rhyme scheme (abadcbdefef), and finally another enjambment in verses 9 and 10. Obviously, and although I tried, much was lost in translation.

[Olive Sunday is more commonly known today as Palm Sunday: ]

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