Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Last night I read with others from Oberlin at the Slow Train Cafe, the theme being, of course, love poetry. This time with a twist: love poetry and translation. So we had a "great feast of languages" -- Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Japanese, Urdu, Hindi, Shona, Greek, Portuguese, Latin, German, Lithuanian, and I'm forgetting some. What a treat to hear so many different sounds. Oh, and Welsh; what an amazing sound that has. Being a "Jones" I should learn some. Retirement project.

I read from Italian poems by G. B. Guarini, 16th century poet and writer of lyrics for some of the greatest songwriters of his day. Here are the two poems I read (in my translation):


It is no use
to ask me for a song.
If you are deaf, I'm mute.
Hearing your voice,
I lose my own, and make
only a harmony of groans.

If you won't hear
my sighs, look at my face:
there in my tears, you'll find my song.
It's no wonder, I think, that at least 18 composers set this song to music in the early 17th century! 
Here's a little happier one:

Once in a while we talk of love,
just she and I.
She says that love's a little sprite
that wanders where it will, and can't
be touched or seen.

But I see love,
there, in her eyes.
I cannot touch it there, only
on her soft lips.


1 comment:

cliang said...

Very touching poems. Thank you for sharing them! That night is such a great feast of beauty. I believe I hear the music in poetry. And it is so great and interesting to hear the melody in human voice especially when people are not singing.