Appuntamento da non perdere. Il poeta statunitense, di origine serba Charles Simic, sarà a Roma, martedì 27 ottobre 2015 alle 19.00, per una lettura di poesie all’Auditorium della Saint Stephen’s School (Via Aventina, 3). Le sue principali opere sono state pubblicate nelle edizioni Adelphi di Roberto Calasso.
Leggiamo alcune poesie tratte da Maestro dei travestimenti e da Il lunatico nella versione di Damiano Abeni e Moira Egan.
(Nella foto Charles Simic, Pordenone 21.10.12, photo. Graziano Arici/eyevine/East News).
da MASTER OF DISGUISES (2010)
I cani provano pena per i propri padroni
Si siedono ai loro piedi a cena finita
e osservano le loro espressioni rabbuiarsi
mentre leggono il giornale o ascoltano la moglie
che parla di problemi più grandi dei loro,
dopo di che solo il silenzio della pacifica campagna
si sente: le piante cariche di foglie
prese dalle loro stesse preoccupazioni; l’unico lampada accesa
non abbastanza intensa da tenere a bada le ombre.
Dogs Pity Their Masters
They sit at their feet after the dinner is over
And watch their expressions darken
As they read the papers or listen to their wives
Speak of troubles greater than their own,
After which, only the silence of the peaceful countryside
Can be heard; the trees full of leaves
Busy with their own worries; the one lit lamp
Not strong enough to keep the shadows at bay.
C’era il cortile di un marmista,
ma quella dozzina di lapidi
non aveva ancora un nome.
Altrimenti, non molto da vedere qui in giro.
Sera presto, i negozietti
sulla strada principale già chiusi.
Qualche luce in veranda qui e là.
Il silenzio dei capi chini
che rendono grazie per la cena digrignando i denti.
Non succede mai niente qui,
tranne che queste guerre forestiere
che storpiano i giovanotti
e lasciano le loro ragazze bionde
a scroccare un liquore nelle bettole di paese.
There was a stonemason’s yard,
But its dozen gravestones
had no names on them yet.
Otherwise, not much to see here.
Early evening, the small stores
On Main Street already closed.
A few porch lights here and there.
The silence of bowed heads
Saying grace and gritting their teeth.
Nothing ever happens here,
Except for these foreign wars
That maim the young boys
And leave their golden girls
To hustle drinks in local dives.
In quella grande casa
Quando ancora sapeva come far parlare le ombre
restando a lungo seduta insieme a loro,
le parlavano del suo bellissimo padre,
della sua assenza protratta, e di come la quiete
colmava la casa nelle sere di neve.
“Dicci, bambina, hai paura?” chiedevano,
mentre la bimba tendeva l’orecchio per sentire i passi
nel corridoio, lungo, buio, con uno specchio a parete
che stava diventando cieco come la nonna
che non riusciva più a trovare né a infilare un ago
seduta in salotto a ricordare degli attori
che il figlio le aveva portato a casa una volta,
tra cui la ragazza che se n’era andata da sola
e venne poi ritrovata, dopo lunghe ricerche,
che galleggiava nuda sull’acqua nera dello stagno.
In That Big House
When she still knew how to make shadows speak
By sitting with them a long time,
They talked about their handsome father,
His long absence, and how the quiet
Would fill the house on snowy evenings.
“Tell us, child, are you afraid?” they’d ask,
While the girls listened for steps in the hallway,
The long, dim one with a full-length mirror
That’s been going blind like her grandmother
Who could no longer find or thread a needle
As she sat in the parlor remembering some actors
Her son brought to dinner one night,
The one young woman who wandered off by herself
And was found later, after a long search,
Floating naked in the black water of the pond.
da THE LUNATIC (2015)
Mi sono svegliato in piena notte e ho trovato
un cavallo che tranquillo incombeva sul mio letto.
Amico mio, sono così contento che sei qui, gli ho detto,
nevica e devi avere avuto freddo
tutto solo nella stalla in fondo alla via
con il contadino e sua moglie morti entrambi.
Ti butterò una coperta in groppa e andrò
a vedere se c’è una zolletta di zucchero in cucina,
come quella che ho visto dare da un tipo col cappello
a cilindro a una puledra al circo, ma temo
che magari te ne sarai andato quando torno, e allora
meglio che rimanga a farti compagnia qui al buio.
I awoke in the middle of the night to find
A horse standing quietly over my bed.
My friend, I’m so glad you’re here, I said,
It’s snowing and you must’ve been cold
and lonely in your stable down the road
With the farmer and his wife both dead.
I’ll throw a blanket over you and check
If there is a lump of sugar in the kitchen,
Like the one I saw a man in a top hat
Slip to a mare in a circus, but I fear you might
Be gone when I get back, so I better stay
And keep you company here in the dark.
Dato che la vita eterna è noiosa
gli angeli giocano a pinnacolo in paradiso,
i diavoli giocano a poker all’inferno.
Puoi sentire le carte che schioccano sul tavolo
nel cuore della notte.
Dio fa un solitario,
e Satana lo stesso,
solo che imbroglia e bestemmia.
Because life eternal is boring,
Angels play pinochle in heaven,
Devils play poker in hell.
You can hear the cards smack the table
In the dead of night.
God playing a game of solitaire,
Satan playing one as well,
Except he cusses and cheats.
OH, HO DETTO
Il mio argomento è l’anima,
di cui è difficile parlare
dato che è invisibile,
silenziosa e spesso assente.
Anche quando si fa vedere
negli occhi di un bambino
o di un cane randagio,
mi mancano le parole.
OH, I SAID
My subject is the soul
Difficult to talk about,
Since it is invisible,
Silent and often absent.
Even when it shows itself
In the eyes of a child
Or a dog without a home,
I’m at a loss for words.
Charles Simic was born on May 9, 1938, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where he had a traumatic childhood during World War II. In 1954 he emigrated from Yugoslavia with his mother and brother to join his father in the United States. They lived in and around Chicago until 1958.
Simic’s first poems were published in 1959, when he was twenty-one years old. In 1961 he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and in 1966 he earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University while working at night to cover the costs of tuition. His first full-length collection of poems, What the Grass Says, was published the following year. Since then he has published more than sixty books in the United States and abroad, twenty titles of his own poetry among them, including The Lunatic (Ecco, 2015); New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012 (Harcourt, 2013); Master of Disguises (2010); That Little Something (2008); My Noiseless Entourage(2005); Selected Poems: 1963-2003 (Faber and Faber, 2004), for which he received the 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize; The Voice at 3:00 AM: Selected Late and New Poems (2003); Night Picnic (2001);Jackstraws (1999), which was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times; and The Book of Gods and Devils (1990).
His other books of poetry include Walking the Black Cat(1996), which was a finalist for the National Book Award;A Wedding in Hell (1994); Hotel Insomnia (1992); The World Doesn’t End: Prose Poems (1989), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990; Selected Poems: 1963-1983 (1990); and Unending Blues (1986).
In his essay “Poetry and Experience,” Simic wrote: “At least since Emerson and Whitman, there’s a cult of experience in American poetry. Our poets, when one comes right down to it, are always saying: This is what happened to me. This is what I saw and felt. Truth, they never get tired of reiterating, is not something that already exists in the world, but something that needs to be rediscovered almost daily.”
Simic has also published numerous translations of French, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, and Slovenian poetry and is the author of several books of essays, including Orphan Factory. He has edited several anthologies, including an edition of The Best American Poetry in 1992.
About his work, a reviewer for the Harvard Review said, “There are few poets writing in America today who share his lavish appetite for the bizarre, his inexhaustible repertoire of indelible characters and gestures … Simic is perhaps our most disquieting muse.”
Simic was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in 2007. About the appointment, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, “The range of Charles Simic’s imagination is evident in his stunning and unusual imagery. He handles language with the skill of a master craftsman, yet his poems are easily accessible, often meditative and surprising. He has given us a rich body of highly organized poetry with shades of darkness and flashes of ironic humor.”
“I am especially touched and honored to be selected because I am an immigrant boy who didn’t speak English until I was fifteen,” responded Simic after being named Poet Laureate.
Simic was chosen to receive the Academy Fellowship in 1998 and elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000. He has received numerous awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995.
Most recently, he was the recipient of the 2011 Frost Medal, presented annually for “lifetime achievement in poetry.” In 2007, he received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. Simic is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire, where he has taught since 1973