Lo Spirito, l’Amore,
The Spirit, Love,
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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