180. (Anna Akhmatova)

Even in translations, her poems can seem such perfect instances of lyric utterance–the anchoring “I,” the impress, profound, suffocating at times, of public on private life, the oblique swerves of desire, the mystery of occasion and the satisfaction of sufficiency, the feeling of encountering a splinter of experience in the whole of a poem, or else a fragment of a poem and a whole experience, … Continue reading 180. (Anna Akhmatova)

173. (Eugenio Montale)

The final poem in La Bufera e altro, “Il sogno del prigionero,” “The Prisoner’s Dream,” is also the second poem in the section titled “Conclusioni provvisiorie,” “Provisional Conclusions.”  Below is the Arrowsmith translation: . Here, except for a few signs, you can’t tell dawn from night. . The zigzag of starlings over the watchtowers on days of fighting, my only wings, a thread of arctic air, the … Continue reading 173. (Eugenio Montale)

170. (Eugenio Montale)

A second in a series of readings of poems by Eugenio Montale, from his collection La Bufera e altro.  Here, from the fifth selection of the collection, “Silvae,” is the poem ” ‘Ezekiel Saw the Wheel’.” The original title is an English quotation, alluding, believes William Arrowsmith, whose translation I consult, to a African-American slave spiritual. Arrowsmith’s translation: Was it you, strange hand, that snatched me from … Continue reading 170. (Eugenio Montale)

110. (Eugenio Montale)

Montale’s best translator, William Arrowsmith, writes of the collection La Bufera e altro: “these are love-poems, both personal and cosmological, without doubt the most remarkable sequence of love-poems in Italian since Petrarch.” “Love-poems” rather than “love poems” because love does not so much characterize as constitute the poetry, and vice-versa. But what does this mean? To understand Montale’s achievement, I’ll first try to set out some … Continue reading 110. (Eugenio Montale)

67. (Robert Lowell)

The disservice of the term “Confessional Poetry,” coined by M.L. Rosenthal in 1957 to describe not only Robert Lowell’s poetry, but the poetry of his rising contemporaries, was soon observed; but the damage of the term was not done to Lowell’s poetry, but to the poets who read Lowell’s poetry through a misapprehension of what the term distorted. Lowell was, like many of the poets … Continue reading 67. (Robert Lowell)