December 6, 2008

Arnold de Vos

Arnold de Vos (b. Netherlands/Italy)
1937

The Dutch-born poet Arnold de Vos is an archeologist and a lover of Middle Eastern literature. He lives in Trent.

Among his published books are: Uit een volslagen duisternis (From Total Gloom), Poesie del deficit (Deficit Poems), winner of the Little Strega Prize of 1979 and of the Taormina Prize of 1980, Il portico (The Porch), Responso (Response), winner of the Sikania Prize, and Paradiso e destino o La perla insonne delle pudende (Paradise and Destiny or The Sleepless Pearl of the Pudenda), winner of the City of the Painter Guastaferro Prize of 2000 with Peter Russell).

BOOKS OF POETRY

Uit een volslagen duisternis (Leiden: Sijhoff, 1967); Poesie del deficit (Padua: Edigam, 1980); Il portico (Florence: Gazebo, 1985); Responso (Ragusa, 1990); Paradiso e destino o La perla insonne delle pudende (Caltanissetta: Sciascia, 2000)

Statement:

Do you ask me why I chose to write in Italian, I did not: I'm a poet in need to express himself while living with Italian people in their country. I'm supposed to do so in front of the Italian reader, writing about what may be of interest to an acculturized but not necessarily learned one, who is aware of belonging to the Mediterranean pond. I am a small fish not easy to take in, and this is not my home sea. Was it the other side of the Mediterranean or let's say the Levantine side, its waters might have been more up to me, perhaps. Distance is reckoned to be the breeding ground of desire, a stimulus to authors. So, I succeded for the first time to write real Italian poetry (my migrant voice, born in Holland, was accustomed to the use of the italian language since 1962), while staying with my Dutch wife as archaeologists in the loneliness of the Tunesian countryside near the Algerian border, and then by myself in Tunis.
Now that the distance is gone after my “coming home” in Italy, I will gradually become an all- Italian writer but for the arguments of my poetry, I think, and the reader may fully disagree on my involvement with other cultures, last and least that of my home ground: I'm not home bound.


-Translated from the Italian by Adeodato Piazza Nicolai




La mano non data

Quel che mi ha insegnato mio padre
volente o nolente
è ascoltare me. Forse ho preso da lui.
Dagli altoforni del nostro silenzio
qualche scoria è volata.
Ricaduta a distanza di tempo
volente o nolente
la raccolgo, una forma contorta
che mi brucia tra le mani:
La mano non data.



The Hand Not Given

What my father taught me
willingly or unwillingly
is to hear myself. Maybe I take after him.
From the blast furnaces of our silence
some residue has flown.
Fallen again in due time
willingly or unwillingly
I pick it up, distorted shape
burning my hands:
The hand not given.




Beauty Farm

Appoggiato alla porta del podere
ti sei visto alle spalle
avanzare il tarlo.
La maglia piena di tarme
scopre con voluttà
un corpo che fa piega.
Appoggiata contro la facciata
la nuova porta è già pronta: lascerai
il maso in ordine, bellezza compassata
in posa museale.
Ma non la felicità.




Beauty Farm

Leaning at the main door of the farm
you saw behind you
the coming of the woodworm.
The moth-eaten sweater
reveals with delight
a body that wrinkles.
Leaning against the front wall
the new door is ready: you will leave
the farm all in order, beauty composed
for a museum exhibit.
Not happiness however.





Alba serotina

La luce attraverso il cristallo
sulla natura morta delle tue dita,
è l’alba in bilico
se fare giorno.



Dawn Undecided

Light through the crystal
on the still life of your fingers,
it’s dawn undecided
about becoming day.





Il giardino nel sangue

Se il giardino entra nel sangue
siamo noi la voce degli uccelli
che dalle cime dei salici
chiamiamo la linfa in fiore.
La rosa della rugiada
spina la voce che espettora
gli struggimenti della notte
e la lena della luce che torna.



Garden in the Blood

If the garden enters in the blood
we are voice of the birds
that call the lymph into flower
from the tops of willow trees.
The rose of dew
bone chips the voice coughing up
nocturnal heartaches
and the force of turning light.





Tredici righi

Ortolano del mio giardino chiuso,
concimo e annaffio
piante che mi sono state date
anche a rischio della salute.
Uno si affeziona al male per la bellezza,
la vigoria e il rigoglio.
Anche l’acqua è un regalo
e il concime porto io stesso,
che mangio del mio giardino.
Quel che c’è di mio nell’arte botanica,
lo sposo volentieri a una pianta bella.
E se tu mi hai dato gli occhi per vedere
guai a te, se era per avvelenarmi l'esistenza.




Thirteen Lines

Keeper of my shuttered garden,
I fertilize and water
plants that were given me
even at risk for my health.
One is drawn to sickness because
of beauty, vigor and growth.
Even water is a gift
and I carry the fertilizer
which I eat from my garden.
What is mine of botanical arts
I gladly husband to a lovely plant.
And if you have given me eyes to see
beware, if it was to poison my life.




Sono

Dispero e ragiono
ogni giorno, sono.

Sono davanti al tavolo
come davanti al muro.
La parola mi inchioda,
minchia. Essa ferisce
e guarisce, nel mentre la vita va avanti
e intristisce.




I Am

I despair and think
each day, I am.

I am in front of the table;
as if in front of the wall.
Fuck! the word nails me.
It wounds and heals,
meanwhile life goes on
and gets uglier.




Tu deliziosa compagna

Tu deliziosa compagna
mi ti siedi accanto, e ti sveli:
solitudine totale.
Solitudine divina, screzi buio e luce
del pensiero.
I sette giorni della settimana
sono tutti per te: dare e avere
è un solo tornaconto, dare e avere
ragione alle, delle creature
del tuo ingegno.
Salvati con il frutto della mente
se in previsione non hai
il frutto del ventre.



You Scrumptious Companion

You scrumptious companion
sit next to me and unveil:
total solitude.
Heavenly solitude, you tinge the dark and light
of thought.
The seven days of the week
are entirely for you: giving and taking
is your advantage, giving and receiving
reasons from the creations
of your own genius.
Save yourself by the fruit of your brain
if you haven’t stashed away
the fruit of your womb.



Loca neglecta

Ci sguazzo, nel brago
del corpo che reclama bonifica
e con tanto di drenaggio
rimane un’allegra palude.



Loca neglecta

I splash, in the miasma
of the body needing dredging
and with all that drainage
it remains a happy swamp.



Una storia antica

Adriatico il tuo nome.
Colpo di coda dell’oceano,
sei anche un abisso che ingoia gli umani
sui loro gommoni. Cercano scampo
dove scampo non ce n’è. Tra costa e costa
il Minotauro del mare
nonostante i Tesei e le Arianne crocerossine
rivendica sempre il suo “diritto.”




An Ancient Story

Adriatic your name.
The ocean’s flip of the tail
you are also an abyss that swallows men
and their rubber boats. They seek refuge
where there is no refuge. From shore to shore
the Minotaur of the sea
regardless of all theTheseuses and Red-Cross Ariadnes
always claims its own “right.”





In ascolto

Era per sentire il mare
che ho avvicinato l’orecchio alla conchiglia:
due conchiglie all’unisono
in un rapporto teso, col sottinteso
di captare un’eco del remoto
passato burrascoso
delle specie
.



Listening

It was to hear the sea
that I put my ear to the seashell:
two shells in unison
in a tense rapport, with the complicity
of capturing an echo of the distant
stormy past
of the species.







Notte e giorno

Si aggronda
la chiusura del giorno.
Apre alla speranza
l’alba.
Fra i due tramonti
giorno e notte sgrottano
il grande occhio della creazione.




Night and Day

The end of day
frowns.
Dawn opens up
to hope.
Between the two sunsets
day and night unwrinkles
the great eye of creation.

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