Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ulysses sails the Dalmatian coast with Umberto Saba

Yesterday. 3 glorious hours. 55,000 books at the Hockessin Library Sale. A bibliophile's dream!

I got a ton of books for both the business and myself. Right now I'm browsing a collection of Italian poetry presented in Italian on the left side with English on facing right side, the English translations from poets as varied as Chaucer, Rosetti and Byron.

I was brushing up on my Italian in anticipation of going on pilgrimage with the Paulines to Italy in April. But drat it all, the bad economy caused too few signups and the trip was canceled.

So my fervor for all things Italian will have to be slated with poetry...
by Umberto Saba

Nella mia giovanezza ho navigato
lungo le coste dalmate. Isolotti

a fior d'onda emergevano, ove raro
un uccello sostava intento a prede,

coperti d'alghe, scivolosi, al sole
belli come smeraldi. Quando l'alta
marea e la notte li annulava, vele
sottovento sbandavano piu al largo,

per fuggirne l'insidia. Oggi il mio regno

'e quella terra di nessuno. Il porto

accende ad altri i suoi lumi; me al largo

sospinge ancora il non domato spirito,

e della vita il doloroso amore.


by Umberto Saba, translated by Henry Taylor

I sailed, in the days of my youth,
the length of the Dalmatian coast. Small islands

would rise from the waves; there, intent on his prey,

an occasional sea-bird would alight;

slippery, covered with sea-moss, those islands

gleamed in the sunlight like emeralds.

But when they lay beneath high tides of darkness,

boats sailing to leeward swung wide of them,
steering clear of their treachery.

Now I am king

of Noman's land. The harbor-lights
kindle for others; once more I turn out to sea,

driven by an unconquered spirit

and a sorrowful love for all life.

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