English translation: Fabio De Propris & Peter Byrne
ed. Fabio De Propris and Peter Byrne have been working on a little project in Italian and English that readers who fancy language will appreciate. Appended to the poem and translation is a demotic version written by Peter Byrne. The entire exercise could easily be named, "Trusting Greek Gifts."
(Swans - July 12, 2010)
Infine costruirono il cavallo:
nel ventre cavo, sedili di legno
per accogliere i soldati e le spade.
L'astuzia greca avrebbe vinto Troia:
Omero, Ulisse e Giove erano certi.
Quale sorpresa fu per tutti loro
vedere il meccanismo equino farsi
di nuovo bestia, al galoppo, ansimante,
duecento metri dopo aver varcato
la sacra porta di quella città,
i soldati trasformati in turisti,
le spade in querce, in cipressi, in ulivi.
Troiani e Greci, ancora diffidenti,
si sedettero su un prato a parlare,
a guardare il cavallo che mangiava,
concludendo che il prodigio avvenuto
era frutto di una concentrazione
divina di energia e che anche loro
potevano sforzarsi un tantinello
e metter su, al posto della solita
inefficiente e dispendiosa guerra,
un'efficace pace senza fine.
So they made a horse full of wooden seats|
For sweaty men with swords.
Ulysses Homer Jove: Greek wit would take Troy.
But it was shock that won the day.
Once well within the sacred gate,
The horse machine took life and trotted.
Trojans and Greeks, cautious still, saw soldiers
Become tourists among trees--those swords
Become Oak, Cypress and Olive.
Watching the horse nibble Troy grass,
They started to converse.
Divine muscle had worked a wonder.
Now they'd flex their own,
Replacing costly, clumsy war
With smooth running endless peace.
Demotic Version by Peter Byrne
You'll love this story, Joey. I heard it (I think) last night holding tight to my stool at the end of the bar. The Greeks couldn't do fuckall to stop the feud. So they built this shell of a horse, big as an old Studebaker. Inside there were slats to sit on. It looked like a joke, fun for bored grunts. But it was a winner. You see, the clever dicks were with them, Homer, Ulysses, friggin Jove -- imagine! They rolled this big funny in through the city gates and gave it an almighty shove. A good stone's throw inside and it started to neigh. Yeah! (The dude blabbing at the bar on shots and beer chasers swore to it on his mother's pension.) Old dobbin snorted and stunk, the real thing. The guys from inside, enlisted and brass, started cavorting, picnic style. The swords they'd swung were trees for shade, solid oak, classy cypress, and olive. Both sides squatted and stared, worried but wanting to be convinced. They watched the nag snuff up Trojan grass. The nodding helmets figured it a miracle from upstairs. What the hell, they'd pitch in too. War cost too much and never really worked. Peace, on four good hooves, could trot on, till the cows come home.
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About the Author
Fabio De Propris is a Roman writer who has also lived in Istanbul. He has published three novels (Brenda e Plotino, Se mi chiami Amore, Nero Istanbul) and translated books from English (Markheim of R. L. Stevenson, Paradoxes and Problems of John Donne, An Anthology of William Hazlitt's Essays) and from Turkish (Two Girls of Perihan Magden, translated with Mehmet S. Bermek, The Clown and His Daughter of Halide Edip Adivar.) Fabio teaches in Rome and writes occasionally in Il Manifesto. He is presently at work on his fourth novel. His poems appear in the paintings of the group Artisti di Fortebraccio. (back)