Ero sul punto in cui son chiusi ancora
gli occhi, ma la memoria a noi ritorna,
quando una voce mi chiamò nel sonno.
Voce di spazio; e pur parea venire
da una bocca vicina alla mia bocca,
e mover l’aria presso il mio respiro.
Diceva: «Ada», «Ada», soltanto, in due
note d’irresistibile dolcezza.
Oh, non del mondo. Oh, non v’è piú nessuno
che mi chiami, nel mondo. Una celeste
serenità rideva in quella voce
cosí mutata di quand’era in terra
a parlarmi d’amore. E nel mio sonno
io non la riconobbi; e non risposi.
Ma tornerà. Venuta era per dirmi
(piú vi ripenso e piú lo credo, in cuore)
che l’ora viene: ch’io sia pronta; e nulla
porti con me, fuor che l’ardore antico.
Io sono pronta. E sol per la certezza
di risentir da quella voce il mio
nome, or vivo; e seguirla. Il corpo resti,
che tanto pianse; e lo raccolga l’alba.
I was at the point when still closed
are our eyes, but memory returns to us,
when a voice called to me in my sleep.
Voice of space; and yet it seemed to come
from a mouth near my mouth,
and to move the air near my breath.
It said: “Ada,”… “Ada,” alone, in two
notes of irresistible tenderness.
Oh, not of this world. Oh, there is no longer
anyone who calls me, in this world. A celestial
serenity laughed in that voice which
was so different from when it was on earth
talking to me of love. And in my sleep
I did not recognize it: and I did not reply.
But it will return. It had come to tell me
(the more I think of it, the more in my heart I know)
that the time has come: that I am ready; and nothing
shall I bring with me but my ancient ardour.
I’m ready. And only for the certainty
of hearing from that voice again my
name, I live; and follow. May this body remain,
which so cried; and be collected by the dawn.
Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019
The poem “Voce” by Ada Negri is from the collection Vespertina, Milan, Mondadori, 1930.
Ada Negri was born Lodi from a working class family in 1870. She attended the Lodi School for Girls and became a teacher at the early age of eighteen. Her first volume of poems, Fatalità, (1892) confirmed her reputation as a poet. At the age of 27, she married Giovanni Garlanda, who had fallen in love with her after reading her poetry, but they separated 1913.
She became the first woman member of the Italian Academy in 1940, an achievement which, however, would forever stain her reputation, because members of the Academy were forced to swear loyalty to the Fascist Regime.
Her work was widely translated during her lifetime, with individual poems published in newspapers abroad.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.