glaukopis: Painting: Lady of Shalott (shalott)
[personal profile] glaukopis
For the sake of something to do, and in order to prove to myself that I hadn't already forgotten Italian grammar, I put together a translation of Primo Levi's "Shema." The original text is up front; my blatting is below the cut.


Voi che siete sicuri

Nelle vostre tiepide case,

Voi che trovate tornando a sera

Il cibo caldo e i visi amici:

Considerate se questo è un uomo

Che lavora nel fango

Che non conosce pace

Che lotta per mezzo pane

Che muore per un sì o per un no.

Considerate se questa è una donna,

Senza capelli e senza nome

Senza più forza di ricordare

Vuoti gli occhi e freddo il grembo

Come una rana d'inverno.

Meditate che questo è stato:

Vi comando queste parole.

Scolpitele nel vostro cuore

Stando in casa andando per via,

Coricandovi alzandovi:

Ripetetele ai vostri figli.

O vi si sfaccia la casa,

La malattia vi impedisca,

I vostri nati torcano il viso da voi.





You who are safe
in your warm houses,
you who return at evening to find
the hot meal and friendly faces--

consider if this is a man
who labors in the mud
who knows no peace
who fights over a piece of bread
who dies at a single "yes" or "no."

Consider if this is a woman,
without hair and without a name
with no more strength to remember;
her eyes empty and her womb cold
like a frog in winter.

Consider that this has been;
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your heart
when standing in your house, going down the street,
going to sleep and waking up;
repeat them to your children.

Or may your house be wrecked,
may sickness hinder you,
may your own children turn their faces away from you.


It's a fairly simple text, but I've only taken one Italian reading course, so it's possible that my method is not entirely sound. I would have liked to use a word other than "consider" for meditate, but nothing else worked as well ("contemplate"? "ponder"?). I would also be happy if someone would tell me about the use of comando--both of the other translations I consulted went with "commend," but I couldn't quite get this.

August 2014

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