Ed è subito sera

 

Salvatore Quasimodo

Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera.

And then it is night

 

Salvatore Quasimodo

We all stand alone on the heart of the earth
pierced by a ray of the sun’s light:
and then it is night.

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

Originally this was the last verse of a poem by Salvatore Quasimodo called “Solitudini”. It was later cut down to these three, hermetic verses. The poem reflects the existential condition of man: solitude, the pain of living, the brevity of life itself. For years I kept myself from translating it: It is too densely populated with the ghosts of great translators past. The ognuno has been everyone for too many years, the sera/ evening for too long, and the subito/ suddenly for what seems forever. So, I stalled. But there is a time for everything, I suppose. And poetry is, after all, a reflection of what we see in it. This is what I see:

Solitude: we are all solo sul cuor della terra/alone on the heart of the earth. Pain of living: we are trafitto da un raggio di sole/ pierced by a ray of the sun’s light, which is the pain of living. Death: sera/night., when everything comes to a close. The brevity of the last verse accentuates the dramatic conclusion of life itself. Every verse is shorter than the one that precedes it, and then it is night.

Poetic elements in Italian – Consonance: solo-sole; Assonance: terra-sera; and alliteration: sta, solo, sul, sole, subito, sera.

In English, the poetic elements, as presented by the poet, were, for me, impossible to reproduce. Alliteration was replaced with assonance (first verse), and assonance with rhyme (second and third). I have read it aloud numerous times, convinced – but it is possibly an illusion, mine – that the sound is correct, and the meaning clear.

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