“Canzone d’aprile” by Giovanni Pascoli

“Canzone d’aprile” by Giovanni Pascoli

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Today’s selection is from Selected Poems of Giovanni Pascoli, the most comprehensive collection in English of the founder of modern Italian poetry. Pascoli (1855–1912)—the founder of modern Italian poetry and one of Italy’s most beloved poets—has been compared to Robert Frost for his evocation of natural speech, his bucolic settings, and the way he bridges poetic tradition and the beginnings of modernism. 

Canzone d’aprile

Fantasma tu giungi,
tu parti mistero.
Venisti, o di lungi?
chè. lega gi. il pero,
fiorisce il cotogno

Di cincie e fringuelli
risuona la ripa.
Sei tu tra gli ornelli,
sei tu tra la stipa?
Ombra! anima! sogno!
sei tu …?

Ogni anno a te grido
con palpito nuovo.
Tu giungi: sorrido;
tu parti: mi trovo
due lagrime amare
di più.

Quest’anno … oh! quest’anno,
la gioia vien teco:
già. l’odo, o m’inganno,
quell’eco dell’eco;
già. t’odo cantare
Cu … cu.

April Song

You come as a ghost
and leave as a mystery.
Have you come from so far
that the pears already
bear fruit, and the quinces
bloom, too?

Finches and chickadees
trill from the rims.
Are you there in the ash tree
or brush grass? In a dream,
in the soul, or shadow,
are you …?

Each year I call you
with longing renewed
and you come and I smile
and you leave and I find
a few more tears

This year … this year,
joy has come too: I hear it
now, clear—or I’m wrong,
it’s the echo of echoes
I hear; already I hear you,
Coo … coo.

About the Translators

Taije Silverman teaches poetry and literary translation at the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of the poetry collection Houses Are FieldsMarina Della Putta Johnston is a lecturer in Italian at the University of Pennsylvania.