Eugenio Montale


translated by Alan Tucker


La speranza di pure rivederti

e mi chiesi se questo che mi chiude
ogni senso di te, schermo d'immagini,
ha i segni della morte o dal passato
in esso, ma distorto e fatto labile,
in tuo barbaglio:

(a Modena, tra i portici,
un servo gallonato trascinava
due sciacalli al guinzaglio).


The hope of merely seeing you again
was abandoning me;

and I asked myself if what was taking away
all sense of you, this shield of imagery,
rehearsed a death, or if from the past,
but distorted and made pathetic, it is in essence
a you dazzle of what might be

        (at Modena, in the arcade
        a fancy dress lackey dragging
        two jackals on a leash).




NOTE: Again there was an earlier version (below) I have attempted to sober up. schermo can mean shield, screen, protection according to my dictionary that is. I read it to refer to these poems which Montale was writing to shield himself from the absence and presence of Clizia, that he means in this sense 'a piece of paper'. I have no doubt myself of an underlying reference to the Shield of Achilles. (cf W.H.Auden's poem) + cf. XVIII

Mottetto VI

The hope of reconciliation
had abandoned me

and I asked myself
is this perhaps death rehearsed

with you the words of a song
too difficult to forget for too long

intellect stranded
under the pedestrian tunnel
at Swindon the workers walking
back to the carpark
every day another everyday ended
in 'general public participation'.

                and two jackals on a leash
                the liver on which they feast.

14 September 2006
NMR Library, Swindon

'that was a way of putting things '


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