Haul Your Paper Ships Up
after Eugenio Montale
Translated from the Italian by Richard Price
Haul your paper ships up the scorched shore
and then sleep, little-boy captain –
may you never hear the evil spirits
sailing now in flocks.
(In the walled garden
the owl’s had enough.
The smoke from the rooves
The work of months is a ruin.
The moment arrives
and it cracks in secret, bursts with a puff.)
The collapse is coming.
Maybe without a sound.
The architects can sense
their death sentence.
Time to save
their little jug of cream,
it even looks like a miniature boat,
Tie your fleet up
in the hedges.
Arremba Su La Strinata Proda
Arremba su la strinata proda
le navi di cartone, e dormi,
fanciulletto padrone: che non oda
tu i malevoli spiriti che veleggiano a stormi.
Nel chiuso dell’ortino svolacchia il gufo
e i fumacchi dei tetti sono pesi.
L’attimo che rovina l’opera lenta di mesi
giunge: ora incrina segreto, ora divelge in un buffo.
Viene lo spacco, forse senza strepito.
Chi ha edificato sente la sua condanna.
È l’ora che si salva solo la barca in panna.
Amarra la tua flotta tra le siepi
When I came out of prison
by Miguel Martins
Translated from the Portuguese by Richard Price with Sophie Paterson
When I came out of prison you were waiting for me
with the freshest of oysters in the palms of your hands.
That will always be the image I’ll keep of you,
whether we stay together – “forever” as the priests say –
or whether you leave for China, distant China,
the heart of another man.
After five cemented years,
five years surrounded by the torturous music of breath,
five years without peace, without respite, you brought me the sea
of an interior territory where even free men,
even children, walk with heads bowed.
That’s why I’ll never give you presents at Christmas
and not for your birthday, either – nothing could compare
to that happy tear, that vaguely solid tear,
I choked back, down to that indeterminate zone,
the zone which separates us from wild animals.
I can only try to confuse myself
with the carpet in the corridor,
with the kitchen tap,
with the cream you put on your face
in the morning and at night,
and let you use me as you see fit,
or not use me at all,
and take advantage of every minute
of the most gentle of your gestures,
and they, too, resemble the sea
when the nights are calm and the moon lights up
the entire bay of Cadiz.
Ao sair da prisão, esperavas-me
Ao sair da prisão, esperavas-me,
com uma ostra fresquíssima sobre as palmas
das mãos. Será sempre essa a imagem
que guardarei de ti, quer fiquemos juntos
para sempre, como dizem os padres,
quer partas para a China mais longínqua,
que é o coração de outro homem.
Depois de cinco anos cimentado,
rodeado pela música torturante de respirações
sem freio e sem paz, trouxeste-me o mar
a uma terra interior, onde até os homens livres,
até as crianças, caminham de cabeça baixa.
Por isso, nunca te darei prendas no Natal
ou no teu aniversário: nada se poderia comparar
àquela lágrima feliz e vagamente sólida
que, nesse dia, me desceu pela garganta
até ao sítio indeterminado em que nos distinguimos
das feras. Posso apenas tentar confundir-me
com o tapete do corredor, com a torneira
da cozinha, com o creme que pões na cara,
de manhã ou à noite, e deixar que me dês o uso
que te parecer melhor, ou que não me dês uso algum,
e aproveitar cada minuto dos teus gestos mais leves,
que, também eles, se assemelham ao mar,
quando as noites são calmas e o luar o ilumina
na baía Cádis.
EUGENIO MONTALE (d. 1981) was an Italian poet renowned as a renovator of modern Italian poetry. He also translated and worked as a critic for the Corriere della Sera. He received the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature, which crowned numerous other awards.
MIGUEL MARTINS (Lisbon, 1969) has published more than thirty books (poetry, fiction and essays), his most recent ones being pince-nez (Zazie, Brazil, 2016), São Miguel da Desorientação (Macondo, Brazil, 2020), Ferro em Brasa (with Filipe Homem Fonseca (Antígona, 2021). He is also a trasnslator of over thirty books, among them English, French, and Spanish literature. He is a jazz musician and organizer of jazz concerts and festivals, a lyricist, and magazine contributor.
RICHARD PRICE is a poet, novelist, and curator. His collections include Lucky Day, Small World and Moon for Sale (all published by Carcanet): his topics are modern families and modern relationships; his forms are various but he says “essentially lyric with musical/expressionist edges.” He is Head of Contemporary British Collections at the British Library in London.
MARK ROSALBO is an actor, composer and painter. He grew up in Leeds, Maine and now lives in Vermont with his wife and five children. He graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. More of his work can be seen here.