Volume 8 (Fall 2014)

Dino Campana

          trans. by Judith Vollmer

The Skylight


Smoky summer evening from the high sky-

light swirls sun-flares inside shadows

and singes my heart with its seal.

But who has (on the terrace on the river a lamp's being lit—who

—for the Little Madonna of the Bridge?)—who

is, who is it, who

lit the lamp?  There is an acrid

smell in the room, a red nerve

fading. The stars are mother-of-pearl

buttons, and the evening dresses

itself in velvet: the evening is silly.

The conceited evening is sizzling

but in the heart of the evening

there is always a wilting red wound.


La sera fumosa d'estate

Dall'alta invetriata mesce chiarori nell'ombra

E mi lascia nel cuore un suggello ardente.

Ma chi ha (sul terrazzo sul fiume si accende una lampada)

        chi ha

A la Madonnina del Ponte chi e` chi e` che ha acceso la

         lampada?  — c'e`

Nella stanza un odor di putredine: c'e`

Nella stanza una piaga rossa languente.

Le stelle sono bottoni di madreperla e la sera si veste di


E tremola la sera fatua: e` fatua la sera e tremola ma c'e`

Nel cuore della sera c'e`,

Sempre una piaga rossa languente.

Dino Campana (1885-1932) was a hauntingly vivid, experimental, and mystical poet. Born in Marradi, Italy, Campana spent many years traveling and simply wandering, composing the poems that formed the core of his Canti Orfici (Orphic Songs), revered for its lyrical prose/poetry tempos, tonal variations, and arresting visual work. Campana was a pacifist and an autodidact whose love poems to street-lamps, to nighttime, and to magical urban landscapes are the works of a unique imagination.

Judith Vollmer is the author of four books of poetry, including most recently, The Water Books (Autumn House 2012).  Vollmer teaches at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and in the Low Residency MFA Program in Poetry & Poetry in Translation at Drew University.  She lives in Pittsburgh. Visit her website.

On Libations: Give me Mother's Little Helper or Raging Bitch: I'm an IPA devotee. Give me Stone Levitation then Stone Ruination on Zilly's Porch down in Ocracoke.  If it's 90+ & humid in my garden in Pittsburgh, I'll take a Heineken in an ice bucket. Otherwise, it's vino rosso: Piedmontese, Pavesian, of the Langhe Hills, of the Belbo River.