Mar 122011
 

Here is a Richard Jackson translation of an ever so slightly upbeat Leopardi poem. Giacomo Leopardi was one of the 19th century greats, an Italian patriot and a great pessimist in the Schopenhauer mode.  Rick Jackson is poet, translator and teacher at Vermont College of Fine Arts and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. You might want to read this Leopardi poem in conjunction with Rick’s terrific essay, “Translation, Adaptation and Transformation: The Poet as Translator,” published on Numéro Cinq earlier this week.

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The Infinite

By Giacomo Leopardi

Translated by Richard Jackson

 

Always dear to me was this hermit’s hill,
And this hedge that always separates me
From looking at the distant horizon, but
Seated here and lost in an endless meditation
Which discovers a vaster space within,
Boundless silence and deep inner quiet,
My heart is nearly overcome. And like the wind
Murmuring among the leaves to which I compare
Its beating, this infinite silence, this inner voice
So with my mind I encompass an eternity,
And the seasons die, and the present lives
In that sound. And in the middle of all that
Immensity, my thought drowns itself:
Sweet to me, to be shipwrecked in this sea.

—Leopardi, translated by Richard Jackson

  6 Responses to “The Infinite: Poem — Giacomo Leopardi, Translated by Richard Jackson”

  1. This is a gorgeous poem and, I suspect, a gorgeous translation.

  2. I read this poem the day it was posted and its last three lines continue to haunt me.

  3. […] Cesare Pavese once said, “No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide,” a grim line that always makes dg chuckle. Pavese was a hugely important Italian writer of the first half of the 20th century. These poems date from the 1930s, early in his career, when he was briefly imprisoned for anti-fascist activities. After the Second World War, he became a communist (remember Italy had a powerful and for the most part legal Community Party) and wrote prolifically until his death by suicide in 1950, the year he won the Strega Prize for a book of novellas called La Bella Estate. Richard Jackson is a beloved colleague and friend and, once upon a time, dg’s Virgil in the wilds of Slovenia (during one of those famous Vermont College of Fine Arts summer residencies). See also his revelatory essay on translation, published earlier on Numéro Cinq, and his lovely translation Leopardi’s “The Infinite.” […]

  4. […] Cesare Pavese once said, “No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide,” a grim line that always makes dg chuckle. Pavese was a hugely important Italian writer of the first half of the 20th century. These poems date from the 1930s, early in his career, when he was briefly imprisoned for anti-fascist activities. After the Second World War, he became a communist (remember Italy had a powerful and for the most part legal Communist Party) and wrote prolifically until his death by suicide in 1950, the year he won the Strega Prize for a book of novellas called La Bella Estate. Richard Jackson is a beloved colleague and friend and, once upon a time, dg’s Virgil in the wilds of Slovenia (during one of those famous Vermont College of Fine Arts summer residencies). See also his revelatory essay on translation, published earlier on Numéro Cinq, and his lovely translation Leopardi’s “The Infinite.” […]

  5. […] Richard Jackson , whose translations have appeared on Numéro Cinq, described Lee’s poems this way: “Beginning with an escape and ending “not far from anywhere,” Lee Busby moves magically, almost imperceptibly from journey to odyssey as he explores family history and larger issues of loss and redemption, always wondering, as he does when fishing with his father that things might already have “slipped, / almost, away from me.” Hiding behind a kind of folksy vision, though, is a voice that is clever, almost Horatian in its slyness, as when he says to a girl, teaching her to fish, “I’ll slide  / in here behind you this time and show you / how to reel it in, nice and easy.” Indeed, it is just such a strategy that Horace would approve of, a kind of vision one would expect in the stories of Larry Brown. That Busby can pull off this delicate balance is a testament to a complex, honest vision that pulls us in with its unassuming airs only to immediately show us the falsity of our own assumptions and reveal a deep, mature vision of a life lived in endless self exploration.” […]

  6. […] Giacomo Leopardi (numéro cinq), Fontana delle tatarughe en Roma (flickriver), perezoso […]

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