Anna Maria Carpi

4 untitled poems


Motherplain, motherspace, specters,
Saturday evening, winter, here in Ferrara
they’re giving a famous Requiem tonight.
People swarm in furs of fog
human microbes
inside the egg of light in the theatre.
No soul has remained out there,
the Castle, only,
impassive.  As sympathetic
as stone no one can be.

Nunc et in hora nostrae mortis,
now and in our death’s hour –
darker and darker the night out there,
and envy arises
towards those two, young and strange,
holding their hands, in the first row,
thoughtful, intent.
Here it’s love. Ah, to have it:
the anchor would be,
for the shipwrecked, the dispersed ones
deep in their soul they believe.


Venezia was named,
but from campo to campo
everybody has gone.
Fog made of water and smoke,
the last hem of a garment
belonging to one god, neither good nor bad.
God is indifferent and faceless, moves
with the wind blowing inland
where I, too, come from.

Venezia was named.
Who hasn’t been there,
who hasn’t had it?
They even came from the steppe.
And nothing was there but
the taverns, moneychangers and gadgets.
It looked like Cuba, or Haiti, at the pirates’ time.
But the worst things were not the transients,
the dark evil,
the inhabitants.
Il Dorsoduro around La Salute
was the stronghold of Harlequins.

Even planning in defense from the sea
they could no longer bear.
Now the sea is here.

My last friends
have returned to the mainland.
From the campo I can see
their house, empty, where the wind comes and goes.
Even my kitten has gone to the dry land.
La Giudecca is no longer facing me
and the few feeble lights still lit
belong to the people on removal.


Since the times when on earth
at dawn the sun – God’s candle –
was shining,
until when, exhausted,
the human creature
found rest at sunset –
blood was spilled on the fields:
so a saga recites
from the North. Where? Somewhere.
When? What a question!
Around… the year one thousand… I believe.

The young are right
in ignoring the dates,
mixing centuries with millennia:
only one explosion
Kuwait, Kosovo, Hiroshima,
Hastings and Roncevaux,
Afghans and Moors
the ravines in Spain,
and the thistle, wind and flowers.


                    To M. Yourcenar

Your head covered, all wrapped
by your cloak congenial
to the soft winds of Flanders
as well as to the storms in Maine
man, woman – who cares?
When it comes, you used to say,
death  cannot but rejoin me
to the little girl I was, la petite fille
qui j’étais  autrefois,
the child waiting for me
beyond all times.

I wonder how you’ll make it.
Will you reenter her like
in the evening the shadows,
or like the last version overlaps
the first draft of writing?

Your face slid down
to the mouth’s angles  –
oh, the old dog! –
but your eyes, firm, see in the dark,
white cornea, black eyeballs,
and laugh
from the starless wood
the sister owls.


Translated from the Italian by Marina Morbiducci

Click here to read Italian versions of these poems


BIO: Born in Milan, full professor of German literature and philology at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Anna Maria Carpi is also poet. She has published Poems inLinea d’ombra”, 74, 1992; A morte Talleyrand, (a collection of poems), with preface by N.Lorenzini, Campanotto, Udine, 1993 (awarded “Premio Pisa,” 1993 and “Premio Diego Valeri,” 1994); Compagni corpi (long poem) in “L’immaginazione” (1998); German translation in “Arcadia”, Tübingen (XXXII, 1997); Russian translation in “Oktjabr”, Mosca (1998); and a selection in Gedichte, in “Akzente”, Monaco (2001). She has also published three novels: Racconto di gioia e di nebbia (Tale of Joy and Fog), 1995; E sarai per sempre giovane (And You Will Be Forever Young), 1996 (an excerpt, with the titleFrom the Story of the Green Dress”, in The Massachusetts Review (XXXVIII, 3, 1997)); and Il principe scarlatto (The Scarlet Prince), 2002. She has translated various German poets, including  G.Benn (1981, 1986, 2003);  R.M.Rilke (1985);  H.M.Enzensberger (1997, 2001); D.Grünbein (1999); and F.Nietzsche (2000).

Marina Morbiducci is the Italian translator and editor (with E. G. Lynch) of Tender Buttons (Liberilibri, 1989). She has also edited, with Annalisa Goldoni, an anthology on the Black Mountain Poets and Robert Creeley. She published the Italian translation of Etruscan Pages by Kathleen Fraser (Roma, 2001). In March 2003 she received her Ph.D., writing on “Gertrude Stein in T/tempo,” University of Pescara. She presently teaches in the Italian Department, University of Malta.

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