Saturday, February 10, 2007

Szirtes does Akhmatova

George Szirtes posted a lovely translation of a poem by Anna Akhmatova. I wish more people would translate Russian poetry with the rhymes that pervade it. The sound is so important (I am told) to the feel of the work.

Szirtes prefaced the poem:

Here is Anna Akhmatova from Tashkent, thinking of St Petersburg via Dante. My translation:

Il mio San Giovanni
- Dante

Even after his death he kept well clear
Of the ancient Florence of his exiling.
It is for the man who did not reappear
Or once look back that now this song I sing.
Torchlight, darkness, a last embrace, then gone,
Past city limits to grim squawks of fate.
From hell he saw her and piled curses on,
But still recalled her, once through heaven’s gate,
Where barefoot, hair-shirted and lovesick,
He did not walk the perfidious and low
Streets of Florence carrying a candlestick,
Pining for the city where he could not go.

No comments: