English Samgha/Poesia/Traduzioni

Poetry That Doesn’t Let Go: The Rhymes and Reasons of Paolo Febbraro

Translated by Marco Sonzogni and Theodore Ell

Paolo Febbraro (foto)Paolo Febbraro has a very distinct and very strong voice. Reading his poetry is like looking at painting whose contours and characters become more defined and captivating the more one steps away from it. Febbraro draws one in deeper each time, his thoughts and his words seizing the reader’s attention like an unforgiving elastic band of meanings, allusions, questions, answers. The third poem in this short sequence from his remarkable debut collection ends with a question: “Can you hear me?” The translators could hear him loud and clear – and, hopefully, have managed to respond to such a beguiling and demanding voice. [Marco Sonzogni].

****
Paolo Febbraro*
«Disse la voce»
da Il secondo fine, Milano, Marcos y Marcos 1999

Disse la voce:
«Sono colui che tolse
il senno a Kant
e gli occhi a Omero.
Fui io che volli incerti
i tratti
al padre di Amleto,
son io la febbre irresponsabile
che colse Alessandro,
il sogno felice
che scatenò Attila
e lo sguardo traverso
che tradì Orfeo.
I piani di battaglia
sussurrai
al vincitore di Waterloo,
Leonardo tormentai
col più folle degli amori.
Con sfavillio di fuoco
persi nel buio
ad Alessandria
secoli di parole,
corsi
sulle trentatré lame
che vollero rosse e famose
le idi di marzo.
Per invidia ho operato
con fredda intelligenza.
Ora me ne vado
in un luogo né bianco né nero
al riparo da ogni profumo
e da ogni pensiero».
«Dèmone, vipera, serpe,
debole amante del nulla,
a te sia dato, infido,
l’irrevocabile oblio».
«Non chiamarmi diavolo,
uomo. Sono Dio».

«Non vi saranno altre voci.
Già sorge il sole e cancella
Nell’aria i resti dell’incubo
che pure fu cena, parole e mani.
Altri giocheranno sulla rima
capovolta fra sepolcro e ascensione,
fra morte propria e sua resurrezione.
Voi liberatevi dalla salvezza.
Risorge a tempo il sole e vi cancella
con bianche dita l’aspra tenerezza».

E all’ultima porta,
al penultimo passo,
quando ancora il pensiero
se spunta ha un dove per ritornare,
un attimo prima che il cielo
si sveli per sempre o si copra
non lo daresti un seme
dellatua eternità
per ritornarci sopra,
non cercheresti il fiato
per poche parole diminuite
tipo buongiorno quattro tre sì d’accordo mi
sentite?

*
The voice said:
“I am the one who sent
Kant insane
and Homer blind.
It was I who willed
undefined
the features of Hamlet’s father,
I am the reckless fever
that seized Alexander,
the happy dream
that let loose Attila
and the backward glance
that betrayed Orpheus.
I whispered
the battle plans
to the victor at Waterloo,
I tormented Leonardo
with the most deranged love.
With twinkling of fire
I lost to the darkness
in Alexandria
centuries of words,
I ran
along the thirty-three blades
that willed the Ides of March
red and famous.
Out of envy I have worked
with cold intelligence.
Now I am going away
to a place neither white nor black
sheltered from every scent
and every thought.”
“Demon, viper, serpent,
weak lover of nothing:
irrevocable oblivion
be granted you, perfidious one.
“Do not call me devil,
man. I am God.”

“There will be no other voices.
The sun is already rising and erases
from the air what is left of the nightmare
that was, too, supper, words, hands.
Others will play on the overturned
rhyme between sepulchre and ascension,
between one’s death and the resurrection.
Free yourselves from salvation.
Timely, the sun is rising and with white
fingers erases tart tenderness from you.”

And at the last door,
at the last step but one,
when thought, if it comes up,
still has somewhere to go back to,
a moment before the sky
forever reveals or covers itself,
wouldn’t you give one seed
of your eternity
to go over it again,
wouldn’t you search for breath
for a few diminished words
like good morning four three yes right can you
hear me?

_________________________________________________

*Paolo Febbraro, born in Rome in 1965, is a poet and essayist. He works as a teacher in secondary schools. His first collection was Disse la voce [The voice said], which was included in the collected volume Poesia contemporanea. Quarto quaderno italiano edited by Franco Buffoni [Contemporary Poetry: Fourth Italian Notebook, Guerini e associati, 1993]. His verse collection Il secondo fine [The second ending, Marcos y Marcos, 1999] was awarded the Mondello prize for a first full-length work. There followed the short mixed collection of poems and prose Il Diario di Kaspar Hauser [The Diary of Kaspar Hauser, L’Obliquo, 2003] and Il bene materiale [Material good, Scheiwiller, 2008]. More recent is the small edition Deposizione [Deposition, Lietocolle, 2010], which in part anticipates the new poetry collection Fuori per l’inverno [Out for winter], to be published soon. Febbraro’s poems have been translated into English, French and Spanish. As an essayist, he has edited the collection Poeti italiani della «Voce» [Italian Poets of «La Voce», Marcos y Marcos, 1998] and a large anthology of Critica militante [Militant criticism, Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 2001]. From 1995 he was an assistant editor and from 2006 chief editor of the Annuario Critico di Poesia [Critical Yearbook of Poetry] founded by Giorgio Manacorda, the latest volume of which appeared in 2012. He has published the monographs La tradizione di Palazzeschi [The tradition of Palazzeschi, Gaffi, 2007], Saba, Umberto [Gaffi, 2008] and Primo Levi e i totem della poesia [Primo Levi and the totems of poetry, Zona Franca, 2013]. His most important critical work, however, is L’idiota. Una storia letteraria [The Idiot: a literary history, Le Lettere, 2011], a large historical survey which identifies in numerous major works of the Western tradition the figure of the outsider, from the Greeks to the Twentieth Century. Also in 2011 he published the short e-book Perché leggere poesia a scuola [Why read poetry at school?, Garamond]. He is preparing another short monograph intitled Caproni scrittore [Caproni the writer]. A long-time collaborator on «Manifesto», he works primarily in literature and in particular for the cultural pages of «Sole 24 ore».

Marco SonzogniMarco Sonzogni (1971) lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He holds degrees from the University of Pavia (Almo Collegio Borromeo), University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland. A widely published academic, he is an award-winning editor, poet and literary translator. He is a Senior Lecturer in Italian with the School of Languages and Cultures at Victoria University of Wellington, where is also the Director of the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation. His literary translation projects include Swiss-Italian poets (Oliver Scharpf, Alberto Nessi, Pietro De Marchi, Fabiano Alborghetti, Giorgio Orelli), New Zealand poets, and the collected poems of Seamus Heaney (Meridiano).

May 2013 007Theodore Ell earned a doctorate in Italian at the University of Sydney in 2010, with a thesis on the Second World War poetry of the Florentine Piero Bigongiari, a member of the terza generazione of ermetici. Theodore’s main interests are the philology and history of modern Italian poetry, with an emphasis on ermetismo as a voice for Italy’s emotional and existential conflicts, and with special attention to poets’ personal philosophies, aesthetic evolution and working processes. He has conducted primary research in archives in Florence, Pistoia, Pavia, Siena, Pienza and Milan, transcribing the unpublished manuscripts and correspondence of Piero Bigongiari and contemporaries Mario Luzi, Alessandro Parronchi and Alfonso Gatto, among  others. His monograph A Voice in the Fire: Piero Bigongiari’s Poetry of War and Survival will be published in 2013-2014 by Troubador. Theodore also translates Italian literature and has produced English editions in the genres of Italian travel writing, philosophy, narrative prose and Enlightenment science. His own poetry has been published by The Sydney Morning Herald and Sydney University Press. In 2012 he completed a Masters degree in Publishing, accredited by the Australian Publishers’ Association. Theodore is Poetry Editor of the biannual magazine of international writing Contrappasso. He is a Socio accademico corrispondente (Academic associate member) of the Accademia Pistoiese del Ceppo.

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3 thoughts on “Poetry That Doesn’t Let Go: The Rhymes and Reasons of Paolo Febbraro

  1. Grazie a questa proposta ho conosciuto un poeta che, purtroppo, ignoravo; la curiosità mi ha spinto a raccogliere un po’ di informazioni sul web, facendomi approdare a testi (sia poetici che critici) di notevole interesse, molto stimolanti – acquisterò e leggerò i suoi libri. Esprimo ancora una volta il mio apprezzamento per questi appuntamenti con la migliore poesia in lingua italiana e per questi raffinati studi di traduzione.

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