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)

143. (Marina Tsvetaeva)

And, in part, 143. (Elaine Feinstein), since it is Feinstein’s translations (written with the assistance of Angela Livingstone) from the Russian on which I will be relying. Although Livingstone tells us that Tsvetaeva’s voice is “particularly difficult to capture,” Tsvetaeva took a view of poetry that might empower a translator, though it also places a burden of the highest creative expectations on the act of … Continue reading 143. (Marina Tsvetaeva)

104. (Geoffrey Hill)

In the late collections where Eugenio Montale is most present, in translation and as an interlocutor, Hill’s voice finds most relief from its gnarled self-doubts and thorny metaphysics. Montale stands at the center of Al Tempo de’ Tremuoti, in a series of six translations (Hill calls them “variants”) of “Il Gallo Cedrone,” from La Bufera e Altro. Il Gallo Cedrone Dove t’abbatti dopo il breve … Continue reading 104. (Geoffrey Hill)

81. (Joachim du Bellay)

Not a name that gets much English or American attention these (or other) days, Joachim du Bellay made his way before my eyes through the work of C.H. Sisson (a much lesser name who nonetheless receives less due than he deserves). Du Bellay, a sixteenth century French poet, was a member of one of the most brilliant gatherings of poets, the Pléiade, of whom Ronsard is … Continue reading 81. (Joachim du Bellay)

17. (Charles Baudelaire)

Robert Lowell’s 1961 Imitations did more for the reputation of twentieth-century poets Mandelstam and Montale than it did for the nineteenth-century Europeans, Baudelaire and Leopardi, since the latter never needed much rehabilitating in literary circles and since the latter has still not received as much attention, in translation or in cultural myths, as he is due (the somewhat recent Galassi translation notwithstanding). But Lowell’s collection … Continue reading 17. (Charles Baudelaire)