Poetry corner (2): Gabriele D’Annunzio

il piaggio

D’Annunzio, possibly a thoroughly bad guy. At least if you like your politics in primary colours. He was also a remarkable writer and heroic soldier.  The following is a translation (of course), and unless you’re bilingual, it’s hard to be sure that you’ve got the essence. Whatever, it’s still pretty damn good. The original is here.

La pioggia nel pineto  (The rain in the pines)

“Hush. On the edge

Of the woods I do not hear

Words which you call

Human; but I hear

Words which are newer

Spoken by droplets and leaves

Far away.

Listen. Rain falls

From the scattered clouds.

Rain falls on the tamarisks

Briny and parched.

Rain falls on the pine trees

Scaly and bristling,

Rain falls on the myrtles-

Divine,

On the broom-shrubs gleaming

With clustered flowers,

On the junipers thick

With fragrant berries,

Rain falls on our faces-

Sylvan,

Rain falls on our hands-

Naked,

On our clothes-

Light,

On the fresh thoughts

That our soul discloses-

Renewed,

On the lovely fable

That yesterday

Beguiled you, that beguiles me today,

O Hermione.

Do you hear?

The rain is falling

On the solitary

Greenness

With a crackling that persists

And varies in the air

According to the foliage

Sparser, less sparse.

Listen.

The weeping is answered

By the song

Of the Cicadas

Which are not frightened

By the weeping of the South wind

Or the ashen sky

And the pine tree

Has one sound, and the myrtle

Another sound, and the juniper

Yet another, instruments

Different

Under numberless fingers.

And we are

Immersed in the spirit

Of the woodland,

Alive with arboreal life;

And your ecstatic face

Is soft with rain

As a leaf

And your hair

Is fragrant like

The bright broom-flowers,

O earthly creature

Whose name is

Hermione.

Listen, listen. The harmony

Of the high-borne cicadas

Gradually becomes

Fainter

Beneath the weeping

That grows stronger;

But a song mingles with it-

Hoarser,

Rising from down there,

From the far damp shade.

Fainter and weaker

It slackens, fades away.

Only one note

Still trembles, fades away.

Rises again, trembles, fades away.

One hears no sea voice.

Now one hears upon all the foliage,

Pelting,

The silvery rain

That cleanses,

The pelting that varies

According to the foliage

Thicker, less thick.

Listen.

The daughter of the air

is mute; but the daughter

Of the miry swamp, in the distance,

The frog,

Is singing in the deepest shade,

Who knows where, who knows where!

And rain falls on your lashes,

Hermione.

Rain falls on your black eyelashes

So that you seem to weep

But from pleasure; not white

But made almost green,

You seem to emerge from bark.

And within us all life is fresh,

Fragrant,

The heart in our breasts is like a peach

Untouched,

The eyes between the eyelids

Are like springs in the grass,

The teeth in their sockets

Are like bitter almonds.

And we go from thicket to thicket,

Now joined, now apart

(And the rough green vigour

Entwines our ankles,

Entangles our knees)

Who knows where, who knows where!

And rain falls on our faces-

Sylvan,

Rain falls on our hands-

Naked,

On our clothes-

Light,

On the fresh thoughts

That our soul discloses-

Renewed,

On the lovely fable

That yesterday

Beguiled me, that beguiles you today,

O Hermione.”

Caspar David Friedrich, Der Abend, 1820
Caspar David Friedrich, Der Abend, 1820
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