Journey to Montevideo  

From the deck of the ship I could see
The hills of Spain
Fading away in the golden twilight
As the dark brown earth seemed to hide under the green
Something like a melody:
Lonely virgin of an unknown scene,
Something like a melody
In blue, a viola still quavering on the shore at the foot of the hills …
The azure evening was fading away on the sea
And from time to time slow wings would glide across
The golden stillness in a glimmer of azure …
Faraway and dyed several colours
By the farthest silences
Golden birds crossed over in the azure evening: the ship
Blind already crossing over beating against darkness
In tune with our shipwrecked hearts
As azure wings beat against darkness at sea.
But one day
They boarded, the stately matronas of Spain
Their eyes turbid and angelic
Their breasts gravid with vertigo. When
In the deep bay of an equatorial island
In a bay far deeper and quieter than the nocturnal sky
There rose before our eyes in spellbound light
A sleeping city shimmering white
At the foot of the lofty peaks of idle volcanoes
In the turbid breath of the equator: until
After much shouting and many shadows of an unknown land,
After much creaking of chains and much fervid activity
We left the equatorial city
For the troubled nocturnal sea.
And we sailed and we sailed, for days and days, as ships
Heavy with sails softened by the warm breezes slowly crossed our route:
So close on a quarterdeck like a bronze apparition we saw
A young girl from the New World
Shining eyes and wind-whipped dress! And suddenly, wild,
Appearing at the end of a day
The wild shore over there above the boundless main:
And I saw the dunes
Like vertiginous mares wildly loosened
Onto the boundless prairie
Bereft of human houses
And as we veered and fled the dunes we sighted
On a sea yellow with the river’s miraculous bounty
The seaport capital of the new continent.
Limpid cool and electric the evening light
Shone on the tall houses that seemed deserted
On the pirate’s sea far down
In the forsaken town
Between the yellow sea and the dunes.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

 Dino Campana       Translated by Cristina Viti
About Dino Campana :

Probably the least understood, and at the same time one of the most enduring, of Italian poets, Dino Campana (1885-1932) spent a third of his years in an asylum, only publishing in his lifetime one ground-breaking collection of poems (Orphic Songs, 1914), which sought to reconnect Italian poetry to its classical roots while opening it out to the vital new energies & art forms of early twentieth century.
This translation was first published in Selected Works Of Dino Campana, ed. Cristina Viti, Survivors’ Press 2006. A new edition of the Orphic Songs is forthcoming with Waterloo Press 2014.   (Cristina Viti)

Cristina Viti’s published translations include Selected Works of Dino Campana (Survivors’ Press 2006), Stephen Watts’s Mountain Language/Lingua di montagna  & Journey Across Breath/Viaggio nel respiro (Hearing Eye 2008  & 2011), Ziba Karbassi’s Poesie (Mille Gru 2010), Dome Bulfaro’s Ossa Carne (Le voci della luna 2012). Other work also published in MPT, Shearsman Magazine, Wasafiri, L’Immaginazione, Scarf Magazine, VLAK. Current work includes a version of Tahar Lamri’s stories I sessanta nomi dell’amore & (with Stephen Watts) of Tonino Guerra’s Il libro delle chiese abbandonate. Forthcoming with MacLehose Press, a translation of Mariapia Veladiano’s award-winning novel A Life Apart.

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