Eugenio Montale


translated by Alan Tucker


Non recidere, forbice, quel volto,
solo nella memoria che si sfolla,
non far del grande suo viso in ascolto
la mia nebbia di sempre.

Un freddo cala . . . Duro il colpo svetta.
E l'acacia ferita da sé scrolla
il guscio de cicala
nella prima belletta di Novembre.


Don't scissor away that face
the single image I can remember
allow me to keep my attentive gaze
as the fog thickens

the cold descends .. – the blow hits hard
the wounded acacia releases
the cicada's husk
to the first leaf-muck of November.





NOTE: nella prima belletta di Novembre for most the word belletta translates as mud, but it can suggest beauty or beauty aids, rouge, make-up, by extension 'muck' and has, here, the added meaning of belles-lettres, Montale's wry self-recognition, with a reminder maybe that Clizia was an academic. The nearest I can get is the image of a gently rotting feuilleton.


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