"The Glory"

translated by Peter Robinson

in the wind they sowed their long phrases
– like scarves they'd wave in the wind – 
the wind ripped many scarves by chance
and carried them away in frayed cloud shapes –

the poet always scatters her words to the wind
– three thousand drones die for one to touch the queen –
they write they write and they'll know no more dying
if the page were marble, if it were water –

you who write uselessly question,
stare in the eyes of your horoscope or angel –
sometimes the water curdles into marble
and this is the heaven to which other names are given –

you thought you were a raft, you're a flagship,
you thought an umbrella, you're a beautiful kite,
you thought a heavy stone, incapable of shining
and you're silver, you're the pyramids' height –

and the most famed marble can suddenly reveal
flaws more slender than a hair,
then everything cracks, crumbles, and the vain menhirs
melt into wind-swirls, they suck away your name


Translation from the Italian
By Peter Robinson

Maria Luisa Spaziani (b. 1924) is from Turin and has had a long and distinguished literary career. As well as two volumes of fiction and various critical studies of French literature and theater, she has published some eighteen volumes of poetry, including Le acque del sabato (1954), Il gong (1962), Utilità della memoria (1966), L'occhio del cyclone (1970), Transito con catene (1977), Geometria del disordine (1981), La stella del libero arbitrio (1986), I fasti dell'ortica (1996), La traversata dell'oasi (2002), and La luna è già alta (2006). "La gloria," the poem translated here, is from La stella del libero arbitrio.

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).