Dancing on Moonbeams

Until I stumbled into this odd little side gig of translating Italian poetry, my idea of poetry didn’t go much further than, “Roses are red…” etc., etc. Occasionally, I read and reread and tried to understand some of the poetry published in The New Yorker, but first of all, it didn’t rhyme, so that threw me off; then, on many occasions, even after a third or fourth read, I was still asking: “Say what?” I must have snoozed through the poetry segment in English class because all this free flowing thought was news to me. And now, I was being asked to translate it. Fortunately, for me, the poet was none other than Luciano Somma, Italy’s preeminent poet.

It’s been more than 20 years since my first collaboration with Luciano Somma.His sensitivity to the past and optimism for the future made it a pleasure to translate his work. His poems bridge a lifetime in Naples, from World War II to the millennium. Whether it is the young boy taking refuge from American bombs, the son speaking to a father long since departed to seek fortune in America, a flight of gulls, or the sunrise of the twenty-first century, Somma paints his poems with multi-hued emotions that range from the shadow of despair to joy’s luminosity. As English translator, I provided a fresh canvas to exhibit his words.

Per il primo gennaio, vorrei offrire la poema PRIMO GENNAIO scritto da Luciano Somma. Come tutte delle sue poesie, sentiamo lo spirito sentimentale d’un poeta molto noto in Italia. Si può trovare Luciano qui:

You can find Luciano Somma at:

giclee prints of “DANCING ON MOONBEAMS” from greeting card size to poster size, tote bags, iphone cases, pillows, mugs, etc.,can be purchased at:  

PRIMO GENNAIO                               JANUARY 1st

Ancora stordita                                    Still dazed

da tanto frastuono                               from so much racket

la notte sbadiglia                                 the night yawns

perchè è già domani.                           as it’s already tomorrow.                

Avrà il volto nuovo                               Will it have a new face                    

quest’alba che spunta                         this sunrise that awakens

neonata speranza                                newborn hope

d’un anno sereno?                              for a peaceful year?

Laggiù all’orizzonte                             There on the horizon                               

Io vedo una luce                                  I see a light

più intensa e più chiara                      powerful and radiant                               

sarà forse inganno?                             Will it be a fraud?

Soltanto chimera?                               Only illusion?

Oppure aria pura                                If not, this greeting

è questo l’augurio                                is a pure manifestation

per tutti quaggiù                                 for everyone on earth

Vogliamoci bene                                  to love each other                                     

la vita è una sola                                 life is unique

teniamola cara                                     we hold it dear

vivendo in amore                                 living in love

Con tutte le razze                                with all races

da veri fratelli                                      from true brothers

sarà un’utopia?                                   will it be utopia?

Può darsi, chissà!                                It’s possible, I wonder!

Luciano Somma                                  Luciano Somma

                                                   (Traduzione) Pamela Allegretto

About pamelaallegretto

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