Eugenio Montale


translated by Alan Tucker


Brina sui vetri; uniti
sempre e sempre in disparte
gl'infermi; e sopra i tavoli
i lunghi soliloqui sulle carte.

Fu il tuo esilio. Ripenso
anche al mio, alla mattina
quando udii tra gli scogli crepitare
la bomba ballerina.

E durarono a lungo i notturni giuochi
di Bengala: come in una festa.

ب scorsa un'ala rude, t'ha sfiorato le mani,
ma invano: la tua carta non و questa.


Rime on the windows. United
always and always set apart
the invalids, and at the tables
long soliloquies over cards.

That was your exile. I think back
to my own, the matutinal occasion
the bomb went off on the rocks -
the 'Ballerina' explosion.

Fireworks banging all night, Bengal
lights, as if for a festival.
A crude wingtip brushed your palm,
but in vain: not your card at all.




NOTE: the first word Brina may be brine or hoarfrost. In an early less inhibited version I was more chilled out by the poem. I have no idea what a ballerina bomb was.

Mottetti III first version

Hoarfrost on the window. Together
always and always apart. Cold
systole and diastole of solitude
played like a game of weather
the cards laid down on the heart.
        And I am old

You choose to be exiled. The thought
occurs. Now I read in a magazine
the 'Ballerina' explosion, with pictures.
I recall your orders not to think of it at all,
your strictures; your card was not about to fall.

14 September 2006


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