LA VOCE

Ada Negri

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.

THE VOICE

Ada Negri

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.

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