Writers' Corner

Donald Gecewicz

2001 Poetry

Translator's Statement

A translator aspires to make cultures meet by bringing words - with all their shades and tones - in contact two at a time to blend and join the nuanced meanings of those words. Promoting this change of state involves some skill, art, and plain sleight-of-hand. I am lucky - the harmony and liveliness of Italian mingle well with the inventiveness and crackling beauties of English. But making meaning flow (like jazz, like electric current) calls for experimentation. The translation grant from the NEA gives me freedom to spend time experimenting with word choices to make Giovanni Raboni's incisive Italian poems poetic in a second language.

Ogni Terzo Pensiero, p 59, by Giovanni Raboni
translated by Donald Gecewicz

Adesso non è più dai rigattieri,
è da qualche antiquario che potrei
comprarmi l'infanzia, riavere i miei
feticci di fulgida latta ieri

derelitti, oggi preziosi, stranieri
venuti da un tempo in cui tu che sei
la mia vita eri ancora in mente dei
e che forse per questo ami. O c'eri

forse anche tu, invisibile, e nell'aria
ulcerata ti credevo magari
la famosa sorellina mai nata,

l'attonita infanta dei calendari
illustrati, muta depositaria
del bene, mite bellezza insidiata?

No longer from second-hand dealers
now it is from antiquaries that I
would purchase my childhood, to have my
fetishes made of shining tin once more,

abandoned yesterday, precious today, strangers
returning from a time when you who are my
life were still in the mind of God and I
perhaps for that reason love you. Or

perhaps you were also there, invisibly,
and in the ulcerated air, did I possibly
believe you the famous little sister never

born, the dumfounded infanta of calendars
with illustrations, the mute repository
of good, the gentle, threatened beauty?

Real Audio"Ogni Terzo Pensiero" read by the author