"The Atlantic Day," Patrizia Cavalli

translated by Peter Robinson

When with my judgment I lay
myself out to the tepid peace of every day,
the docile afternoons, the wide and natural
sleep, no longer opposed to the climate
that equal and still caresses me instead
– the clotted voices open and let me enter
and the street-smells pay court to me
and I give myself at piazza corners
to old men's and girls' looks, and chastely in love
I find every excuse to make me stay – 
at once there returns the Atlantic day.

The light high, the high sounds of the light,
and the distances open. That glimmer
of milk at the blinds is enough, those shadow
slots both dense and deep, the dazzling freshness,
the fanning boughs from balconies,
look summer's here and the sky becomes sea.
The city arises and sailing off wavers
moved by the breezes. Called from the heights
with no anchorage or weights my senses
no longer gathered but wandering loosed
absolute and alone are lost in the air
and they send home news of terror.
News: while at home every object
rediscovers its drawer, its shelf
I become marginal to myself.
My own matter evaporates.

The dark and dense island reappears to me.
That thick substance, promise of remedy,
let me come in. Bear me to my limit
surround me, mark my edges with caresses,
with the weight of your body give me body.
But it's the remedy produces the pain.


Translation from the Italian
By Peter Robinson


Patrizia Cavalli (b. 1952) was born in Todi (Umbria) and now lives in Rome. Her first three volumes, Le mie poesie non cambieranno il mondo (1974), Il cielo (1981), and L'io singolare proprio mio (1992), are collected in Poesie (1974–92) (1992), and were followed by Sempre aperto teatro (1999) and Pigre divinità e pigra sorte (2006). She has also translated plays by Molière and Shakespeare. "La giornata atlantica," the poem translated here, is from her third collection.

Peter Robinson (b. 1953) is Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Reading (UK). Among his many volumes of poetry, translation and literary criticism are Selected Poems (2003), The Look of Goodbye: Poems 2001–2006 (2008), Selected Poetry and Prose of Vittorio Sereni (2006), The Greener Meadow: Selected Poems of Luciano Erba (2007), winner of the John Florio Prize, Poetry & Translation: The Art of the Impossible (2010), and Antonia Pozzi, Poems (2011).