Cristina Campo is a magnificent poet, translator, and essayist I found out about from Flowerville. Since I first read her, I have wanted to translate a book of her into English, and I have done all the poems and an essay, but so far, no one has been interested. Part of the problem is that she wrote relatively little verse – around forty pages – so any volume of her work would have to be padded out with her essays and letters, which seems fine to me but is apparently an obstacle. It’s also possible that my translations are bad. Anyway, she wrote this poem on All Saints’ Day in 1954, for her fellow poet, Maria Luisa Spaziani, whom I have yet to read. I hope you enjoy it.
A Christmas Note to M.L.S.
Maria Luisa, how many times
Shall we gather our lives
in the cup of verse, like saints
cupping a turreted city in their palms?
Spring, how many times
will it hurl the grains of my sorrow
to the rain, and let them fall in your disconsolate
footsteps – in Saint Cloud or Giudecca?
Not even Christmas would suffice
to exchange the most complaisant fables:
the nettle shirts, the seven seas,
the dancing of the swords.
“Miraculously, time unfolds…”
It will bring back in time this minimal
current, a woman, an atom of fire:
us, who live without end.
All Saints’ Day, 1954