Calabrian Chronicles: Caulonia, and so we begin…

The drive in to Caulonia
The drive in to Caulonia

It’s still incredibly beautiful here. I forgot. In the spaces between the rains the sky runs and falls; gathers itself and plunges again towards the sea. Cumulonimbus titans strike their shins on the horizon line as they stumble through the Mediterranean, dead drunk and anxious to reach Ithaca. This is a place where mothers still name their sons Ulysses.

Caulonia under stomy skies.
Caulonia superiore under stomy skies.

The houses are like barnacles on a rock; roof tiles buried in lichen and slathered with concrete where they meet at the crown in an uneasy sea-sick ridge. Below the rust-eaten white iron boundary of the balcony-rail I can see two flaps of a prickly pear struggling out from between two heavy arcs of terracotta.

Morning light on the Ionian Sea
Morning light on the Ionian Sea from Piazza Belvedere

The edge of the sky at dawn over the water is like Montale’s description, a singing strip of metal lath, a kite string straining against the rebounding vault of blue. His was the western sea, the Ligurian coast, a sunset light. Here the Ionian dawn makes eastern music…Jove’s mute mistress writes her name in the sand with a round hoof…IO.

Gioiosa Ionica
Gioiosa Ionica
Looking up at Caulonia from the East.
Looking up at Caulonia Superiore from the East.

New Translation: Eugenio Montale’s “Corno Inglese”

Eugenio Montale

English Horn

The wind this evening attentively plays
-bringing to mind the ringing metallic
slip of a blade-
the instrument of thick trees and open
copper horizon
where the lath of light yanks itself straight
like kites to the sky rebounding

(Traveling clouds, pale realms
of above! Of the high Eldoradeans
ill-closed door!)

and the sea that flake by flake
of mute, livid colours
thrusts at the ground a blast
of twisted foam;
the wind that births and dies
within the slowly darkening hour
may also be singing to you this evening,
disused instrument,
heart.

Corno Inglese

Il vento che stasera suona attento
-ricorda un forte scuotere di lame-
gli strumenti di fitti alberi e spazza
l’orizzonte di rame
dove strisce di luce si protendono
come aquiloni al cielo che rimbomba

(Nuovole in viaggio, chiari
reami di lassu! D’alti Eldoradi
malchiuse porte!)

e il mare che scaglia a scaglia
livido, muta colore
lancia a terra una tromba
di schiume intorte;
il vento che nasce e muore
nell’ora che lenta s’annera
suonasse te pure stasera
scordato strumento,
cuore.

Translations

Eugenio Montale

“Siria”

“Dicevano gli antichi che la poesia / è scala a Dio. Forse non è così /se mi leggi. Ma il giorno io lo seppi /che ritrovai per te la voce, sciolto / in un gregge di nuvoli e di capre / dirompenti da un greppe a brucar bave / di pruno e di falasco, e i volti scarni / della luna e del sole si fondevano, / il motore era guasto ed una freccia / di sangue su un macigno segnalava / la via di Aleppo. “

“Syria”

“The ancients always said that poetry / is a stairway to God. Perhaps this is not so / if you read mine. But the day I knew it / was the day I found my voice again for you, let loose / in a flock of clouds and goats / broken free from their corral to nibble at the foam / of blackthorn and marshgrass, the lean faces / of the moon and sun confounded, / the car broke down and an arrow / of blood on sandstone indicated / the road to Aleppo.

William Carlos Williams

“This Is Just To Say”

“I have eaten / the plums / that were in / the icebox / and which / you were probably / saving / for breakfast / Forgive me / they were delicious / so sweet / and so cold

“Questo È Solo Per Dire”

“Ho mangiato / le prugne / che c’erano / nel frigo / e che immagino / stessi tenèndo da parte / per colazione / Mi perdoni / erano delizosi / così dolce / e così fresche”

Living in Italy as a full-time mother after a lifetime in Dallas, Texas as a professional textile designer is an exercise in learning to be flexible. One of my biggest challenges is maintaining my English vocabulary while trying to discover the nuances of my new language. One of the most enjoyable ways I’ve found is to work at translating poems from their original English or Italian into the reciprocal language. It teaches me new things about both English and Italian. Here are some of the most recent pieces I’ve been working on, I hope that you enjoy them.