Three Poems by Gabriele D'Annunzio

Translated from the Italian by Michael Shindler (October 2021)

Haserot Angel, Herman Matzen (sculptor), 1923

The Lady of the Grave

The lady with a regal air
above the grand roman grave
sits—over the stonework, which hands had clave
admirably, in full funereal flare—

waiting perhaps for ol' Oedipus in fate's snare
to free the superhuman enigma from its cave?
or sister Death whom the knave—
dream cages in the graven marble there?

Her mouth does not voice its plea.
Who will suck the bloody flesh within
that fruit for the essence of the mystery?

She waits. And in those deep impudent eyes,
already shaded by future sin,
there flit the shadows of ancient lies.

La donna in attitudine regale
sopra il grande sarcofago romano
ov'è scolpita, opra di mano
mirabile, una pompa funerale

aspetta forse l'Edipo fatale
che disciolga l'enigma sovrumano?
o la sorella Morte che il profano
sogno chiuda nel marmo sepolcrale?

La sua bocca non dice il suo pensiero.
Chi suggerà da la sanguigna polpa
di quel frutto l'essenza del mistero?

Aspetta. E ne' profondi occhi impudichi,
ombrati già da la futura colpa,
trapassano ombre di delitti antichi.

The Naiad

Pullulating in the dim woods—and gently
trembling—and dilating in the light,
the water ripples; and just now she veils her rite,
just now through all her pale veins she
shivers in discovering a little valley
of nuptials where there are yet in sight
the vestiges of corpses that in the delight
of love had entwined under Selene's scrutiny.

Selene is dead; the Argives are dead;
their wedding beds—abandoned; in the sovereign stand
of the night's silence the water's tumults cease;
but still from time to time I think I hear ahead
the gurgling of an urn that a hand
pours invisibly in that peace.

Pullula ne l'opaco bosco e lene
tremula e si dilata in suoi leggeri
cerchi l'acqua; ed or vela i suoi misteri,
ora per tutte le sue chiare vene
ha un brivido scoprendo all'imo arene
nuziali ove ancor restano intieri
i vestigi dei corpi che in piaceri
d'amor commisti riguardò Selene.

Morta è Selene; morte son le Argire;
i talami, deserti; nel sovrano
silenzio de la notte l'acqua tace;
ma pur sembrami a quando a quando udire
il gorgoglio di un'urna che una mano
invisibile affonda in quella pace.

O Little Sliver of Moon Waning

O little sliver of moon waning
that shines on waves desolately reigning,
O little sliver of silver, what mass of dreams
swells here towards your gentle glow!

Fleeting breaths of foliage,
sighs of flowers from the woods
exhale to the sea: no song, no cry,
no sound pierces the vast silence.

Oppressed by love, by pleasure,
the world of the living falls asleep...
O little sliver waning, what mass of dreams
swells here towards your gentle glow!

O falce di luna calante
che brilli su l'acque deserte,
o falce d'argento, qual mèsse di sogni
ondeggia al tuo mite chiarore qua giù!

Aneliti brevi di foglie,
sospiri di fiori dal bosco
esalano al mare: non canto non grido
non suono pe 'l vasto silenzio va.

Oppresso d'amor, di piacere,
il popol de' vivi s'addorme...
O falce calante, qual mèsse di sogni
ondeggia al tuo mite chiarore qua giù!


Michael Shindler is a writer living in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in publications including The American Conservative, The American Spectator, National Review Online, HillRag, and Providence Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelShindler.

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