And if you loved me—I thought—wouldn’t there be more tomorrow?

Language: Italian
Poet: Umberto Saba
Translator: Paula Bohince

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And if you loved me— I thought—wouldn’t there be more tomorrow?

Three poems by Umberto Saba translated from Italian by Paula Bohince

Umberto Saba (1883–1957) was born as Umberto Poli in Trieste and became an important figures in twentieth century Italian poetry. He also wrote prose and served as a soldier in World War I. He died in Gorizia, Italy.
Paula Bohince is the author of three poetry collections, including Swallows and Waves (Sarabande, Jan. 2016).  Her translations from the Italian are forthcoming in Tikkun, Agni, PN Review, and the Journal of Italian Translation.  She lives in Pennsylvania.

Principio d’estate

Dolore, dove sei?  Qui non ti vedo;
ogni apprenza t’è contraria.  Il sole
indora la città, brilla nel mare.
D’ogni sorta veicoli alla riva
portano in giro qualcosa o qualcuno.
Tutto si muove lietamente, come
tutto fosse di esistere felice.

Start of Summer

Pain, where are you?  Invisible here;
each vision contradicts you.  The sun
gilds the city, shines on the sea.
All sorts of sea-bound cars
carry something or someone.
Everything moves cheerfully, as if
the meaning of life was to be happy.

Un ricordo

Non dormo.  Vedo una strada, un boschetto,
che sul mio curore come un’ansia preme;
dove si andava, per star soli e insieme,
io e un altro ragazzetto.

Era la Pasqua; I riti lunghi e strani
dei vecchi.  E se non mi volesse bene
—pensavo—e non venisse piu domain?
E domain non venne.  Fu un dolore,
uno spasimo fu verso la sera;
che un’amicizia (seppi poi) non era,
era quello un amore;

il primo; e quale e che felicità
n’ebbi, tra I colli e il mare di Trieste.
Ma perché non dormire, oggi, con queste
storie di, credo, quindici anni fa?

A Memory

I don’t sleep.  I see a road, a grove
making my chest tight, anxious;
where we went to be alone and together,
another boy and I.

It was Easter; the rites long and strange
and old.  And if you loved me—
I thought—wouldn’t there be more tomorrow?
And tomorrow never came.  It pained me,
like the ache of evening;
that was not (I later learned) friendship,
it was love;

the first; a happiness
had between the hills and the sea of Trieste.
But why can’t I sleep tonight, because of
a story from, I think, fifteen years ago?

Primavera

Primavera che a me non piaci, io voglio
dire di te che di una strada l’angelo
svoltando, il tuo presagio mi feriva
come una lama.  L’ombra ancor sottile
di nudi rami sulla terra ancora
nuda mi turba, quasi ancho’io potessi
dovessi
rinascere.  La tomba
sembra insicura al tuo appressarsi, antica
primavera, che più d’ogni stagione
crudelmente risusciti ed uccidi.

Spring

Spring, I don’t like you, I want
to say on the street, even the premonition
of trees under your spell hurts me
like a razor-cut.  The shadow of still thin
bare branches on ground
still naked troubles me, as if I too
might have to
be reborn.  The graveyard
trembles when you come, ancient
Spring, which more than any other season
cruelly resurrects and kills.