Dante Alighieri

(1265 - 1321 / Florence / Italy)

Autumn Song


Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the heart feels a languid grief
Laid on it for a covering,
And how sleep seems a goodly thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

And how the swift beat of the brain
Falters because it is in vain,
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf
Knowest thou not? and how the chief
Of joys seems--not to suffer pain?

Know'st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf
Bound up at length for harvesting,
And how death seems a comely thing
In Autumn at the fall of the leaf?

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010
Edited: Tuesday, May 03, 2011

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  • Terry Hicks (5/2/2011 11:26:00 AM)

    Happens that I am re-reading Dante for a class. This is the perfect translation for that purpose; it is as literal as possible. The translator barely saves the English grammar and flow several times, but it is such a clear paraphrase that I, who neither read nor speak Italian, could read the Italian out loud and scan the English for meaning. The power of the original actually comes through, and the greatest lines shine clearly without need of footnotes.
    For once, it is possible to get around the sad old definition of poetry as 'What is lost in translation.' (Report) Reply

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