Sicilian Poetry

Terpsichore

Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

Luigi Pirandello was born in 1867 in Girgenti (now Agrigento) on the southern shore of Sicily. He attended the University of Rome in 1887 and later transferred to Bonn University. His doctoral thesis was a study of the Sicilian language. He was influenced by Luigi Capuana (1839-1915). Antonietta, his wife by an arranged marriage suffered a mental breakdown that is said to have led to Pirandello's sense of disillusionment. He was a prolific writer, producing widely acclaimed novels, short stories and plays. His masterpiece, Six Characters in search of an Author was written in 1921. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1934. He published five books of poetry.


'Sempre Bestia

Senza far nulla, un leone leone:
e un pover'uom dev'affrontar la morte
per avere l'onor del paragone
con quella bestia, senza stento, forte.

D'alti pensieri l'anima infelice
nutrite, si che s'alzi a eccelse mte.
Un gran premio v'aspetta. Vi si dice
che veramente un'aquila voi siete.

Sciogliete in soavissima armonia
il vostro chiuso intenso ardente duolo,
fatene una sublime poesia,
e vi diran che siete un rosignuolo.

Ma dunque per non essere una bestia
che dovrebbe far l'uomo? non far niente?
non pigliarsi ne affanno ne molestia?
E ciuco allora gli dir la gente.

Always An Animal

Without doing anything a lion is a lion:
but hapless man must brave death
to have the honor of being compared
with that animal, strong, without limit.

Nourished by the soaring thoughts of an
afflicted soul, if one reaches an apex.
A grand prize awaits. Then it is said
you truly fly like an eagle.

Write a sublime poem,
that sings in silken rhyme
of your innermost intense feelings,
and they'll say you sing like a nightingale.

What must a man do to not be likened to
an animal? can he simply do nothing?
without feeling anxious or troubled?
People would then take him for a jackass.

---translated by Arthur V. Dieli


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Last updated 11/11/09