Mio padre dipingeva una montagna

Paolo Ottaviani


Mio padre dipingeva una montagna
e faggi e mulattiere dalla tela
gemmano ancora, la neve accompagna

una bianca memoria che tutela
la terra e i boschi dell’immaginare
come linea ignota e parallela

corre dalla tempesta al limitare
del cuore dove nasce lo scompiglio
che dura dentro i sogni, in quell’amare

confuso tra la neve, il padre, il figlio.

My father depicted a mountain

Paolo Ottaviani


My father depicted a mountain
and beeches and trails from the canvas
are budding still, snow is companion

to a white memory that protects
land and woods of the imagination
like enigmatic parallel strokes

that run from the storm to the margin
of the heart from which springs the turmoil
that lingers in dreams, in that affection

confused with snow, the father, the boy.


Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019

The poem Mio padre dipingeva una montagna is from the collection Nel rispetto del cielo (Puntoacapo, 2015), by Paolo Ottaviani.

How seemingly easy it is to translate poetry; how hard it, in fact, is. My rhyme in translation is not perfect, for example. And the metre is different. And then of course the beauty of the Italian language, with words like scompiglio, is lost. The ease of that tra, which must necessarily become between or among or amongst is always a hurdle…Someone much brighter than I am said that something is always lost in translation: do I give up rhyme for consonance, alliteration for metre? I try to listen to the poem in both languages, Italian and English, and to hear the author – not me, the author. If that happens I stop juggling words, stop switching tenses, stop looking for synonyms, and rest.

I hope I have helped this poem cross the Italian border. Luckily, words can still come and go as they please.

I would like to thank Paolo for his permission to publish his beautiful poem in translation.

You can find out more about Paolo Ottaviani and his work as a poet here.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

3 thoughts on “Paolo Ottaviani: My father depicted a mountain

  1. La mia più sincera e commossa gratitudine alla carissima amica Matilda Colarossi. Ora questa mia poesia può varcare i confini linguistici nazionali e farsi conoscere da numerose altre persone nella sua nuova e bellissima veste. Sento vibrare in lingua inglese lo stesso spirito che anima la poesia scritta in italiano. E questo, credo, è il compito primario del tradurre: dare una nuova forma alla stessa sostanza poetica. Mi pare che Matilda ci sia riuscita perfettamente perché, al di là di ogni difficoltà tecnica, ha saputo “listen to the poem in both languages”, ascoltare la stessa anima in entrambe le lingue. Grazie.

    Liked by 1 person

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