Giorgio Bassani


Lo Spirito, l’Amore,
anche come semplice prodotto
di un meccanismo
esistono di per sé
ben al di là del nostro ventre
e del nostro cuore
continuano imperterriti
a lasciare che niente
sia sempre e solo avuto
a rappresentare
un valore assoluto
l’unico davvero esistente


Giorgio Bassani


The Spirit, Love,
even as a simple product
of a mechanism
exist in themselves
well beyond that which is our gut
and is our heart
continue undaunted
to make sure that nothing
is always and only there
to represent
an absolute value
the only truly existing one


Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019

From In rima e senza, by Giorgio Bassani (Mondadori, 1981)

When translating poems that are apparently straightforward, there is always the risk of over simplifying a concept that is anything but simple. In the translation of this poem there were two things I found especially difficult: ventre and  sia […] avuto. I found the first difficult because ventre is gut, womb, belly, stomach: it is what we hold deep inside each of us. I opted for gut, as in gut instinct, gut feeling, but “well beyond our gut” sounded wrong somehow (also in terms of meter) and thus “beyond that which is our gut” was what I chose. The second problem was sia […] avuto a: this is translated as “have to”, our “must”, but how to use it? After trying: “has always and only/ to…”, “exists always and only/ to…”, “is always and only needed/ to…”, and “is always only required/ to…”, I opted for “is always and only there/ to…”. It just sounded right. But that is “always and only” my view.- M.C.

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