In Translation: Two Poems by Amalia Guglielminetti

Amalia Guglielminetti (1881-1941) was described by one of her contemporaries as “a victim of time” given the tired yet profound limitations that rendered her access and experience with writing quite complicated—just like Renaissance women authors, her (male) contemporary explains—despite her prolificacy. Guglielminetti’s haunting and beautiful poems have yet to receive the attention they deserve, particularly in English-language audiences, though they were very popular in her literary circle and those of her contemporaries. These two poems are from her collection L’insonne (The Insomniac, 1913). The original follows the English translation.

Early Autumn’s Rain

For a few days now, a steady rain hangs firmly over the countryside,
and every tree groans with a sad disposition.

Weeping, the vine conceals heavy bunches of grapes
between its red fronds, safe from the malignant water.

The spindly beeches cling to one another, and each one
assembles its leaves on the ground in little piles of golden disks.

The most superb pine tree draws itself up as if in defiance
And shouts out some bitter reprimand to the heedless sky.

The oak endures that banal tedium without ire,
feeling the contorted grass shudder against its trunk.

But the autumnal chestnut tree delights in the faithful rain,
the September waters that bathe its prickly casings in good salt.

Pioggia di primo autunno

La pioggia eguale insiste da più giorni su la campagna
e ogni albero sen lagna in un’attitudine triste.

Lacrimando la vigna i grappoli grevi nasconde
tra le sue rosse fronde, in salvo dall’acqua maligna.

Si stringono fra loro le gaggìe gracili e ognuna
le foglie al suolo aduna in mucchietti di dischi d’oro.

Il pino più superbo s’appuntisce come una sfida
e al cielo sordo grida qualche suo rimprovero acerbo.

II rovere sopporta quel piccolo tedio senz’ire,
sentendo abbrividire sul suo tronco l’edera attorta.

Ma il castagno autunnale si gode la pioggia fedele,
l’acqua di San Michele che mette nei ricci il buon sale.


The Faraway Voice

Through the complex device, the faraway voice, the friendly
voice, almost straining, sounded a little uncertain to my ear.

It reached me tired, perhaps from its travels through the aerial wires,
across the subtle bridges that it traversed, lightning-quick.

It crossed mountains and villages, it traveled past plains and rivers,
it darted between a thousand lights, garlanded over nocturnal cities.

And it came to me, just scarcely slower than your thought,
in the messenger wire, it trembled with sweetness and sorrow.

It spoke, it laughed. Ah! Your laughter ringing through the expanse!
and what an exquisite torment to not see it blaze across your face!

What a profound misery to extend our arms to each other
through the cord that unites us, me from this side, and you a world away!

La voce lontana

Pel complesso apparecchio la voce lontana, l’amica
voce, quasi a fatica, suonò un poco incerta al mio orecchio.

Giungeva stanca, forse, del suo andar per gli aerei fili,
per i ponti sottili che fulmineamente percorse.

Varcò monti e paesi, passò le pianure ed i fiumi,
guizzò fra mille lumi, su città notturne sospesi.

Ed a me venne, appena men rapida del tuo pensiero,
nel cavo messaggiero tremò di dolcezza e di pena.

Parlò, rise. Ah! il tuo riso squillante attraverso lo spazio!
E che squisito strazio non vedertelo ardere in viso!

Che disagio profondo l’uno all’altra tender le braccia
pel filo che ci allaccia, io al di qua, tu al di là d’un mondo!


About the Translator

Alani Rosa Hicks-Bartlett is a writer and translator who lived in the SF Bay Area but now enjoys the Autumn foliage of the East Coast, where she finds herself increasingly in a nudiustertian mode. Her recent poems and translations have appeared in The Stillwater Review, IthacaLit, Gathering Storm, Broad River Review, The Fourth River, and Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism, and Translation, among others. She is currently at work on a series of translations of love poetry from Portuguese, Italian, and Medieval French, and a collection of villanelles.

Appears In

Issue 17

Browse Issues