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This poem is taken from PN Review 227, Volume 42 Number 3, January - February 2016.

from Pondering the Weight of Being: Selected Poems (1944–2013)

Translated by Marco Sonzogni and Ross Woods
Giorgio Orelli
Translators’ Note

As a major poet, Giorgio Orelli is a master wordsmith – carefully and skilfully moulding language to his thematic, stylistic and moral intentions (Dante is the obvious model). This has been the translators’ primary focus and hardest challenge. We have responded to the distinctive features of Orelli’s poetry – lexical and phonetic precision; rational and emotional balance; sober and elegant style; syntactical and semantic complexity; ethical and aesthetic rigour – poem by poem. This, we felt, was the most rewarding way to capture the essence of Orelli’s poetry line by line, almost word by word. In this way the complexity of Orelli’s poetry, manifested in the transformation of the quotidian into the sublime, is unlocked. (All the poems in this sequence – with the exception of the uncollected ‘Libia’ (2006) – appear in Orelli’s third collection, L’ora del tempo [The Moment in Time], published in 1962.)

– M.S. & R.W.

Giorgio Orelli, Pondering the Weight of Being: Selected Poems (1944-2013). Translated by Marco Sonzogni & Ross Woods. Foreword by Pietro De Marchi (Toronto: Guernica, 2015).

Where the Boys Kill January

Your step less cautious you precede me,
silent friend, on the frozen
street. It’s not the fires in the houses
that call to me and dominate the evening
in the untouched village, but the unexpected
racket rising
with winter’s sluggish breath
from the remote, inaccessible, shore
where the boys kill January.

Evening at Bedretto

Keep the Queen dry. Here comes the Fool.
The tarot players cry out.

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