Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hate those who gently lead into nothingness

Franco Fortini

Translating Brecht

All afternoon
a thunderstorm hung on the rooftops,
then broke, in lightning, in torrents.
I stared at lines of cement, lines of glass
with screams inside them, wounds mixed in and limbs,
mine also, who have survived. Carefully, looking
now at the bricks, embattled, now at the dry page,
I heard the word
of a poet expire, or change
to another voice, no longer for us. The oppressed
are oppressed and quiet, the quiet oppressors
talk on the telephone, hatred is courteous, and I too
begin to think I no longer know who's to blame.

Write, I say to myself, hate those
who gently lead into nothingness
the men and women who are your companions
and think they no longer know. Among the enemies' names
write your own too. The thunderstorm,
with its crashing, has passed. To copy
those battles nature's not strong enough. Poetry
changes nothing. Nothing is certain.

(tr. Michael Hamburger)


Blogger scztt said...

In poking around a bit, I notice - you left the final two words off the end. The final line should end:
Nothing is certain. But write.
(Nulla รจ sicuro, ma scrivi.)

Hamburger's translation removes the comma from the original, and makes the end a new sentence - which seems to me a strange choice, and leaves me not exactly sure how to read it. (And, possibly, I'd even prefer your accidental or un-accidental reconfiguration, without "but write" at all).

2:49 PM  

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