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Poetry in Translation (CXXX): Pier-Paolo Pasolini (1922 – 1975), Poet Italian – “Forza del Passato”, ” Sangele Trecutului”, “Force of the Past”

October 6th, 2012 · 2 Comments · International Media, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations, Uncategorized

Pier – Paolo Pasolini, (1922-1975)

Poetry in Translation (CXXX): Pier-Paolo Pasolini (1922 – 1975), Poet Italian – “Forza del Passato”, ” Sangele Trecutului”, “Force of the Past”

Forza del Passato
Pier-Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)

Io sono una forza del Passato.
Solo nella tradizione è il mio amore.
Vengo dai ruderi, dalle chiese,
dalle pale d’altare, dai borghi
abbandonati sugli Appennini o le Prealpi,
dove sono vissuti i fratelli.
Giro per la Tuscolana come un pazzo,
per l’Appia come un cane senza padrone.
O guardo i crepuscoli, le mattine
su Roma, sulla Ciociaria, sul mondo,
come i primi atti della Dopostoria,
cui io assisto, per privilegio d’anagrafe,
dall’orlo estremo di qualche età
sepolta. Mostruoso è chi è nato
dalle viscere di una donna morta.
E io, feto adulto, mi aggiro
più moderno di ogni moderno
a cercare fratelli che non sono più.

Via Apia

Sângele Trecutului
Pier-Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)

Sunt sângele Trecutului.
Dorul meu e zămislit in tradiţii.
Provin din ruine, biserici,
Altare şi sate…
Uitate la poalele Carpaţilor,
Din munţii strămoşilor mei.
Hălăduiesc, nebun, pe uliţa satului,
Acea Vie Apia, ca un câine fără stăpân.
Privind amurgul şi zorile sclipind
Asupra urbei, satului şi a lumii,
Ca o gestaţie a Post-Istoriei,
Căreia îi sunt martor, pentru cinstea
De a le consemna, dela periferia
Unui trecut îngropat. Slut este fătul
Din trupul mamei moarte.
Iar eu, copil bătrân, preumblu năuc,
Mai modern decât orice om modern,
În căutarea fraţilor pierduţi de-o vesnicie.

(Rendered in Romanian by Constantin ROMAN, London,
© 2012, Copyright Constantin ROMAN)

“I wander like a madman, down the Appia like a dog without a master”

Force of the Past
Pier-Paolo Pasolini, (1922-1975)

I am a force of the Past.
My love lies only in tradition.
I come from the ruins, the churches,
the altarpieces, the villages
abandoned in the Appennines or foothills
of the Alps where my brothers once lived.
I wander like a madman down the Tuscolana,
down the Appia like a dog without a master.
Or I see the twilight, the mornings
over Rome, the Ciociaria, the world,
as the first acts of Posthistory
to which I bear witness, for the privilege
of recording them from the outer edge
of some buried age. Monstrous is the man
born of a dead woman’s womb.
And I, a foetus now grown, roam about
more modern than any modern man,
in search of brothers no longer alive.

(English version by Stephen Sartarelli)

The Passion of Pasolini


I was twenty, not even – eighteen,
nineteen… and I had been alive for a century,
a whole lifetime
consumed by the pain of the fact
that I would never be able to give my love
if not to my hand, or to the grass of ditches
or maybe to the earth of an unguarded tomb…
Twenty and, with its human history and its cycle
of poetry, a life had ended.

(from ‘A Desperate Vitality’, trans. by Pasquale Verdecchio)

In 1937 Pasolini returned to his native city and studied art history and literature at the University of Bologna. He published articles in Architrave, the politico-literary monthly of the students, and began writing poems in Friulian. Pasolini’s first collection of poems, POESIA A CASARSA, which he printed at his own expense, appeared in 1942. It reflected his intense love for ‘maternal tongue’, Friulian landscape, and its peasants. The poems also showed his knowledge of the poetry of Giovanni Pascoli, on whom he later wrote his thesis, and Eugenio Montale. Pasolini’s early Italian poems, L’USIGNOLO DELLA CHIESA CATTOLICA, date from this period but appeared in 1958.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Anamaria Remete

    There is something that I cannot figure out: why is it that in the Romanian version the original “Appennini” is replaced with “Carpati” and the “Tuscolana” neighbourhood in Rome with “ulita”? Wouldn’t it be more honest to stick to the original?

  • editor

    Is it an Italian, or Latin saying stating that by definition a “translator is a traitor”?
    Sadly this is not the place to indulge in long disquisitions about the perceived merits and failures of translations. The editor would greatly appreciate the submission of YOUR translation which should observe the content, rhythm and rime, as well as the spirit of the original poem: failing that one is limited to producing a rough, “ad litteram” translation, which is against the spirit of this blog.

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