“a longing for the secret of the stars, a leaning out over the abyss.”

Canti orfici

Dino Campana

 

Faust era giovane e bello, aveva i capelli ricciuti. Le bolognesi somigliavano allora a medaglie siracusane e il taglio dei loro occhi era tanto perfetto che amavano sembrare immobili a contrastare armoniosamente coi lunghi riccioli bruni. Era facile incontrarle la sera per le vie cupe (la luna illuminava allora le strade) e Faust alzava gli occhi ai comignoli delle case che nella luce della luna sembravano punti interrogativi e restava pensieroso allo strisciare dei loro passi che si attenuavano.

Dalla vecchia taverna a volte che raccoglieva gli scolari gli piaceva udire tra i calmi conversari dell’inverno bolognese, frigido e nebuloso come il suo, e lo schioccare dei ciocchi e i guizzi della fiamma sull’ocra delle volte i passi frettolosi sotto gli archi prossimi. Amava allora raccogliersi in un canto mentre la giovine ostessa, rosso il guarnello e le belle gote sotto la pettinatura fumosa passava e ripassava davanti a lui. Faust era giovane e bello. In un giorno come quello, dalla saletta tappezzata, tra i ritornelli degli organi automatici e una decorazione floreale, dalla saletta udivo la folla scorrere e i rumori cupi dell’inverno. Oh! ricordo!: ero giovine, la mano non mai quieta poggiata a sostenere il viso indeciso, gentile di ansia e di stanchezza. Prestavo allora il mio enigma alle sartine levigate e flessuose, consacrate dalla mia ansia del supremo amore, dall’ansia della mia fanciullezza tormentosa assetata. Tutto era mistero per la mia fede, la mia vita era tutta «un’ansia del segreto delle stelle, tutta un chinarsi sull’abisso». Ero bello di tormento, inquieto pallido assetato errante dietro le larve del mistero. Poi fuggii. Mi persi per il tumulto delle città colossali, vidi le bianche cattedrali levarsi congerie enorme di fede e di sogno colle mille punte nel cielo, vidi le Alpi levarsi ancora come più grandi cattedrali, e piene delle grandi ombre verdi degli abeti, e piene della melodia dei torrenti di cui udivo il canto nascente dall’infinito del sogno. Lassù tra gli abeti fumosi nella nebbia, tra i mille e mille ticchiettìi le mille voci del silenzio svelata una giovine luce tra i tronchi, per sentieri di chiarìe salivo: salivo alle Alpi, sullo sfondo bianco delicato mistero. Laghi, lassù tra gli scogli chiare gore vegliate dal sorriso del sogno, le chiare gore i laghi estatici dell’oblio che tu Leonardo fingevi. Il torrente mi raccontava oscuramente la storia. Io fisso tra le lance immobili degli abeti credendo a tratti vagare una nuova melodia selvaggia e pure triste forse fissavo le nubi che sembravano attardarsi curiose un istante su quel paesaggio profondo e spiarlo e svanire dietro le lance immobili degli abeti. E povero, ignudo, felice di essere povero ignudo, di riflettere un istante il paesaggio quale un ricordo incantevole ed orrido in fondo al mio cuore salivo: e giunsi giunsi là fino dove le nevi delle Alpi mi sbarravano il cammino. Una fanciulla nel torrente lavava, lavava e cantava nelle nevi delle bianche Alpi. Si volse, mi accolse, nella notte mi amò. E ancora sullo sfondo le Alpi il bianco delicato mistero, nel mio ricordo s’accese la purità della lampada stellare, brillò la luce della sera d’amore.

Orphic songs

Dino Campana

 

Faust was young and handsome, and he had curly hair. The women of Bologna, then, looked like Siracusa medals; and the slant of their eyes was so perfect that they loved to appear motionless in harmonious contrast with their long brown curls. It was easy to meet them at night down dark alleys (moonlight illumined the streets then); and Faust would raise his eyes to the chimneystacks on the houses, which looked like question marks in the light of the moon; and he would stand pensive at the slithering of their footsteps that grew fainter.

From the old tavern that sometimes hosted students, he liked to hear―among the calm conversations of the Bolognese winter, as frigid and nebulous as his own, and the crackle of logs and the flicker of flames against the ochre vaults―sometimes the quick steps under nearby archways. He loved, then, to stand in a corner while the young hostesses, red the apron and their faces under cottony coiffures, passed to and fro before him. Faust was young and handsome. In a day like that one, from the tapestried hall, between the refrains of the automatic organs and a floral decoration, he could hear from the hall the shuffle of the crowd and the dark sounds of winter. Oh! I remember!: I was young, my hand never still as it held my irresolute face, soft with apprehension and weariness. I offered my verses to smooth and willowy seamstresses, consecrated by my longing for supreme love, by the longing of my tormenting thirsty boyhood. Everything was a mystery for my faith, and my life was all “a longing for the secret of the stars, a leaning out over the abyss.” It was superb with torment, uneasy pallid thirsty itinerant behind the mask of mystery. Then I fled. I lost myself in the tumult of colossal cities; I saw the white cathedrals rising an enormous congeries of faith and of dreams with their thousands of peaks in the sky; I saw the Alps rise again like even greater cathedrals, and full of the great green shadows of the fir trees, and full of the melody of the streams of which I heard the growing chant from the infinity of the dream. Up there among the smoky firs in the fog among the thousands and thousands of ticking sounds the thousands of voices of the silence unveiled a young light through the trunks, along luminous paths I climbed: I climbed the Alps, against the white background delicate mystery. Lakes, up there among the cliffs clear millponds guarded by the smile of the dream, the clear millponds the ecstatic lakes of the oblivion that you Leonardo modelled. The stream was obscurely recounting the story. I gaze between the motionless blades of the fir trees thinking I hear now and then a new wild and also sorrowful melody drifting perhaps I was gazing at the clouds which seemed to linger curious for a moment on that deep landscape spying it and disappearing behind the motionless blades of the firs. And poor and naked, and glad to be poor and naked, to reflect for an instant the landscape as an enchanting and horrible memory in the depths of my heart I climbed: and reached reached there until the snow of the Alps blocked my passage. A young girl in the stream washed, washed and chanted in the snow of the white Alps.  She turned, welcomed me, and in the night loved me. And still in the background the Alps white delicate mystery, and in my memory the purity of the stellar lamp came alight, the nocturnal light of love shone.

 

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2020

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

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