Imitazione della gioia
Dove gli alberi ancora
Una ragione cerchi agli affetti,
Altra ventura a me rivela
Imitation of joy
Where the trees still
A cause you seek for those emotions,
Another meaning is revealed to me
Translation ©Matilda Colarossi
The poem Imitazione della gioia is from the collection Ed è subito sera, Milan, Mondadori.
I found the translation of this poem very challenging. When the source language presents a particularly convoluted syntax, the translator is faced with a difficult choice: to “correct” the word order to make the meaning of the poem clearer, and in so doing so paraphrase the verse; or to respect the poet’s word order, and in doing so risk seeming grammatically incompetent. I opted, as I always do, for the second solution, with the addition of a comma or two. I would, however, like to add some insight: The poet has lost his beloved; and the natural setting and his emotions go hand in hand. Where there are still trees, the night seems even lonelier, more abandoned; and his beloved’s steps vanish slowly as do the blossoms on the trees with the fading light, inevitably. Love ends, and no-one knows why, just that now they are alone – perhaps for the first time. The poet, however, sees the loss “mirrored ” in his past, in other similar events, and seeing beauty on the faces of passersby is as painful to him as death itself. The last three lines can be interpreted in two ways: literally, the poet has lost all innocence and his joy can now be nothing but imitation; or, universally, only poetry can imitate joy because it is one of its very conditions.
The character of Quasimodo’s poetry is brilliantly expressed in these words by Sergio Solmi in the preface to the collection: “a supreme illusion of song that miraculously is sustained after the destruction of every illusion”.
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