And suddenly …

Re-reading the poems of the great Italian Hermetic poets it strikes me again with some force how much understanding poetry is not a matter of analysis. Take this poem by Salvatore Quasimodo.

Ed è subito sera
Salvatore Quasimodo

Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera.

And suddenly it is evening

Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world
pierced by a ray of sunlight:
and suddenly it is evening.

The shock of recognition when you first read the lines overcomes a desire to break up the words and examine them under the microscope of whatever your pet theory may be. They are stark and immediate and directly meaningful.

However, I believe translation to be a valuable method of sharpening a poet’s understanding of how to write. Translation illuminates how slippery words are and how much imagination creates meaning. A translator has had a go at renewing the poem with new English words.

(My apologies for not posting for so long)

3 thoughts on “And suddenly …

  1. Thank you. It took me ages to decide to translate this. There is so much there in those so few words, in those so hermetic lines. It is one of the first poems I learned by heart in Italian. It stumped me then, and it stumps me now, even after the translation, the analysis, and the endless pondering: for how could poetic beauty be so brief and yet infinite?

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