Two translations of Corrado Govoni

 

Chiara Salomoni writes: Corrado Govoni was born near Ferrara in 1884 and died near Rome in 1965. He was a prolific writer of poetry, prose and drama.

Govoni joined the Futurist Movement and collaborated on Marinetti’s Notebooks but his crepuscular way of writing remained a characteristic of his poetry. He was the president of PEN Club Italia in 1938 and worked also for the SIAE (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers) from 1928 until 1943. Govoni was a contributor to some important Italian literary magazines, including Poesia, La Voce and Lacerba.

These two poems are included in L’inaugurazione della primavera (The spring opening) published in 1915. The book, praised by Eugenio Montale, ends the first phase of his literary production started in 1903. Corrado Govoni received several prizes for his poetry and literary work, among them the 1950 Premio Viareggio, the 1953 Premio Marzotto and the 1963 Premio Nazionale Letterario.

 


 

    Il poeta e la bella straniera

 

In una gran città semisvenuta
sotto la violenza dell’estate
il giovane poeta vagabondo
povero e biondo
nella magia della sera
incantata di luci
sul traguardo del marciapiede
incontra viva e palpitante
la bellezza di tutto il mondo
condensata in una maliarda straniera.
Nella stamberga fredda e squallida
l’immagine di quella ignota donna
ch’egli vide passare ignuda
nel vento lilla della sua gonna
nell’anima turbata gli s’incide
come un magnetico esse
coronato da un fiore che sorride.

 

- Corrado Govoni

 
 

    The poet and the gorgeous stranger

 

In a big city that has almost fainted
under the summer force,
the wandering young poet
poor and blonde
in the magic of the evening
enchanted with lights
along with the finishing line
of the pavement runs into
the beauty of the entire world
condensed in a bewitching stranger,
alive and vibrant.
In the chilly and dreary shanty
the vision, of that unknown woman
that he saw passing by stark naked
in the lilac wind of her skirt,
leaves a mark on his troubled soul
like a magnetic ‘S’
crowned by a smiling flower.

 

- Translated by Chiara Salomoni

 


 

    Le cose che fanno la primavera

 

L’acqua rimbalzante dei passeri sui tetti.
La ghirlanda umida di viole che le rondini
sospendono intorno al cornicione della casa,
all’alba.
L’ombrello verde del mendicante di campagna
che va in elemosina sotto la pioggia.
L’organo di Barberia che suona nel sobborgo
il valzer triste della Vedova Allegra.
Le bianche nuvole di polvere
che corron dietro agli automobili.
Le lucciole nel camposanto.
Il giardiniere che vernicia i sedili di legno del viale.
L’innaffiatoio rosso abbandonato nel cortile.
Il ciuffo d’erba fresca nella gronda.
E la fontana che fa la piscia
dentro il suo cerchio,
mentre passan le guardie, col bastone
sotto il braccio, senza far contravvenzione.
L’asino del frate cercatore
che s’impuntiglia in mezzo alla strada
a non voler andar più avanti
malgrado le legnate del padrone,
perchè è passata l’asina dell’ortolano.
Una rosa finta nel cappello
d’una signora divorabile.
E quella nuvola fanciulla
che si dondola laggiù
voluttuosamente
rinfrescando tutto il cielo
del roseo delle sue gambe ignude
sull’altalena della doppia voce
del cuculo.

 

- Corrado Govoni

 
 

    Things that bring spring

 

The bouncing water of sparrows on the roofs.
The wet wreath of violets that swallows
hang around the house cornice
at dawn.

The green umbrella of the countryside beggar
who asks for alms in the rain.
The barrell organ that plays the wistful waltz
of the Merry Widow on the outskirts of town.

The white clouds of dust
that follow the motorcars.
The fireflies in the graveyard.
The gardener who paints
the wooden seats on the path.

The red watering can left in the courtyard.
The tuft of fresh grass in the gutter.
And the fountain that has a piss
within its circle,

while the guards pass by, their batons
under their arms,
without fining anybody.

The donkey of the begging friar
that balks at going ahead
in the middle of the street
despite its owner’s thrashing,
because the greengrocer’s jenny
has just gone past.

A fake rose on the hat
of an attractive lady.

And that girlish cloud
that rocks down there
sensually
refreshing the whole sky
with the pink tinge of her naked legs
on the swing of the cuckoo’s double voice.

 

- Translated by Chiara Salomoni

 

Chiara Salomoni

About Chiara Salomoni

Chiara Salomoni is Italian and lives in London. Her poems appear on Vivienne Westwood’s Climate Revolution website, on The Blue Nib Digital Platform, on Eunoia Review, on WordCity Monthly and on The Poetry Village. One of her poems was among the twenty shortlisted in the Ghost Light poetry competition run by Norwich Theatre Royal. Her translation of Silvio Ramat’s poem was given an Honorable Mention in the Stephen Spender Prize in 2014. In 2015 she read from her translations of Andrea Zanzotto at the Poetry Library. One of her translations of Zanzotto and her homage were published in Poem. Her translations of three poems by Corrado Govoni appear on The Blue Nib Digital Platform and are included in the Translators Aloud YouTube channel, in the #seekingapublisher playlist here. She is a member of Tideway Poets and of poetry p f.