Thursday, October 22, 2009
In this translation – and perhaps this is inherent to translation – the poetry possess greater consistency of tone and emotional pitch than I suspect Montale actually accomplished. This can induce a certain passive reading experience. Last time I was flipping through the poems, I realized after a few minutes that I was hardly reading – rather, I had entered something like a trance state in which snippets of metaphor were languidly floating through my mind while the bulk of my conscious thought was devoted toward running through my day’s to-do list and assuring I had checked all the boxes.
That was a rather convoluted way of confessing that I may not be the closest reader of Montale’s work, but it’s lovely all the same. Below the jump is a rueful and charming love poem.
I think back on your smile, and for me it’s a clear pool
found by chance among the rocks of a riverbed,
little mirror where the ivy can watch her corymbs,
embraced by a quiet white sky overhead.
This I remember; I can’t say, distant one,
whether your look gives voice to a simple spirit,
or if you’re one of those wanderers the world’s evil harms
who carry their suffering with them like a charm.
But I can say this: that your contemplated image
drowns extravagant fears in a wave of calm,
and that your look finds its way into my gray memory
sharp like the crest of a young palm.
Eugenio Montale on Wikipedia
Eugenio Montale on Poets.org