Maras Translates Browning

  

There are at least three versions of the story behind our name: ZVONA i NARI/Bells & Pomegranates. And all three are equally true. According to one of them, we have borrowed the name from a series of pamphlets poet Robert Browning published between 1841 and 1846, up until he met, married and moved to Italy with Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In the subsequent years Robert and Elizabeth collaborated to a certain degree, as much as two poets living together do (if not more), but for us the name of Browning's pamphlets came to stand for both the necessity of literary communication and a writer's responsibility to go beyond that primary act of creation in order to establish a conversation with their peers and their public. 

 

 

So imagine our surprise when, in the first days of ZiN Daily we received a curios electronic shipment from Mate Maras, one of the most notable Croatian translators. This shipment contained a bilingual manuscript of selected verse by Robert Browning translated into Croatian by Mate Maras, slated for publication by Matica hrvatska. Among some two thousand verses that Maras translated, there are some from Bells & Pomegranates, which inspired him to send them our way. Our gratitude is matched only by Mate Maras's stature in Croatian literature and the expanse of his work: we are privileged to publish even a minute glimpse into the opus of a translator who introduced (or reintroduced) some of the greatest English, French and Italian classics into Croatian. Maras translated the collected works of William Shakespeare, but also work by Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Frost, Vladimir Nabokov; François Rabelais, Marcel Proust; Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca, Giovanni Boccaccio...  

 

Not to seem greedy, we have chosen to present three poems in their original English, along with Mate Maras's excellent translations. These are not from the Bells & Pomegranates, but from what is probably Browning's best known collection, Men and Women. The title of this collection came from a line in Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese, which for us is a sign, if not of overt collaboration, then certainly of the intertwinings that make all poetry, and indeed all literature alive and potent.

 


Love in a Life 

 

Room after room, 
I hunt the house through 
We inhabit together. 
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her— 
Next time, herself!—not the trouble behind her 
Left in the curtain, the couch's perfume! 
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew: 
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather. 

 

Yet the day wears, 
And door succeeds door; 
I try the fresh fortune— 
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre. 
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter. 
Spend my whole day in the quest,—who cares? 
But 'tis twilight, you see,—with such suites to explore, 
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune! 

 

(1855)

 


Ljubav u životu

 

Sobu za sobom,
Kroz svu je kuću lovim
U kojoj skupa prebivamo.
Srce, ne boj se ničeg, jer ćeš je naći, srce moje
Sljedeći put, nju osobno! — ne patnje koje
U zastoru, na sofi, ostavlja za sobom!
Dok brisa vijenac sobni, cvijećem se osuo novim;
Na njihaj pera njezina sijevnulo zrcalo tamo.

 

A dan već hita,
I vrata slijede vrata;       
Novu ću sreću iskušati —                                                                                                                                           
Od krila ka središtu pustom kućom prolazim.
I dalje isti udes! — ona ode dok ja dolazim.
Sav dan provedem u potrazi — al tko te pita?
Tolike stanove istražit, vidiš, a sumrak se hvata,
Tolike ormare pretrest, tolike niše pregledati!

 

(1855)

 


Life in a Love

 

Escape me?
Never—
Beloved!
While I am I, and you are you,
   So long as the world contains us both,
   Me the loving and you the loth,
While the one eludes, must the other pursue.
My life is a fault at last, I fear:
   It seems too much like a fate, indeed!
   Though I do my best I shall scarce succeed.
But what if I fail of my purpose here? 
It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
   To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall,
And baffled, get up to begin again,—
   So the chase takes up one’s life, that’s all.
While, look but once from your farthest bound,
   At me so deep in the dust and dark,
No sooner the old hope drops to ground
   Than a new one, straight to the selfsame mark,
I shape me—
Ever
Removed! 

 

(1855)

 


Život u ljubavi

 

Izbjeći mene?
Nikada —
Ljubljena!
Dok ja sam ja, i dokle ti si ti,
   Sve dokle god nas svijet oboje drži,
   Ljubećeg mene, tebe što me mrziš,
Dok jedno bježi, drugo mora slijediti.
Bojim se, život mi je pogrješka sasvijem:
   Doista, odveć sličan je sudbini!
   Teško ću uspjet premda sve najbolje činim.
No što je ako u nakani ne uspijem?
   To znači samo živce napinjati,
   I smijati se padu, otirati suze,
I zbunjen ustati i opet počinjati —
   Tako mi hajka čitav život uze.
Stoj, pogledaj tek jednom od najdalje strane,
   Na me duboko u prahu i mraku,
Čim stara nada na zemlju mi kane,
   Ja novu, ravno prema istom znaku,
Uobličim —
Nigda
Udaljen!

 

(1855)

 


Two in the Campagna

 

I wonder how you feel to-day 
As I have felt since, hand in hand, 
We sat down on the grass, to stray 
In spirit better through the land, 
This morn of Rome and May? 

 

For me, I touched a thought, I know, 
Has tantalized me many times, 
(Like turns of thread the spiders throw 
Mocking across our path) for rhymes 
To catch at and let go. 

 

Help me to hold it! First it left 
The yellow fennel, run to seed 
There, branching from the brickwork’s cleft, 
Some old tomb’s ruin: yonder weed 
Took up the floating weft, 

 

Where one small orange cup amassed 
Five beetles, — blind and green they grope 
Among the honey meal: and last, 
Everywhere on the grassy slope 
I traced it. Hold it fast! 

 

The champaign with its endless fleece 
Of feathery grasses everywhere! 
Silence and passion, joy and peace, 
An everlasting wash of air — 
Rome’s ghost since her decease. 

 

Such life here, through such lengths of hours, 
Such miracles performed in play, 
Such primal naked forms of flowers, 
Such letting nature have her way 
While heaven looks from its towers! 

 

How say you? Let us, O my dove, 
Let us be unashamed of soul, 
As earth lies bare to heaven above! 
How is it under our control 
To love or not to love? 

 

I would that you were all to me, 
You that are just so much, no more. 
Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free! 
Where does the fault lie? What the core 
O’ the wound, since wound must be? 

 

I would I could adopt your will, 
See with your eyes, and set my heart 
Beating by yours, and drink my fill 
At your soul’s springs, — your part my part 
In life, for good and ill. 

 

No. I yearn upward, touch you close, 
Then stand away. I kiss your cheek, 
Catch your soul’s warmth, - I pluck the rose 
And love it more than tongue can speak- 
Then the good minute goes. 

 

Already how am I so far 
Our of that minute? Must I go 
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar, 
Onward, whenever light winds blow, 
Fixed by no friendly star? 

 

Just when I seemed about to learn! 
Where is the thread now? Off again! 
The Old trick! Only I discern- 
Infinite passion, and the pain 
Of finite hearts that yearn.

 

(1855)

 


Dvoje u Campagni

 

Pitam se kako ćutiš ono danas 
Što ćutim otkad, držeć se za ruke,
Mi sjedosmo na travu, da bi za nas
Duh okolicom lutao bez muke,
Tog svibanjskog i rimskog jutra?

 

Za sebe znadem, misao dodirnuh
Koja je mnogo mučila me puta
(Nalik na nit što pauci je hitnu
Podrugljivo baš preko našeg puta),
Dok lovih i propuštah rime.     

        

Pomozi da je zadržim! Najprije
S anisa žuta u sjemenu ode,
A granao se iz napukle cigle 
Ruševnog drevna groba; korov ondje
Taj plutajući dašak svije,

 

Gdje je na sitnu narančastom cvijetku
Pet kukaca što naslijepo vrluda
Po mednom obroku; i naposljetku 
Otkrih po travnom obronku joj svuda
Trag. Drži mi je u začetku!    

        

Poljana svoje beskonačno runo
Pernatih trava svuda razastrla!
Strast i tišina, radovanja puno,
Spokojan zapljus zraka neumrla —
Duh Rima od njegova pada.

 

Toliki život tu, kroz duge sate,
Tolika čuda u igri na polju,
Toliko gola pracvijeća tu cvate,
Toliko svega prirodi na volju,
Dok nebo s kula gleda na te!     

       

Što kažeš? Neka, o grlice draga,
Zbog svoje duše budemo bez srama,
Kao što zemlja leži nebu naga!
Kako se zbi u vlasti da je nama
Voljeti ili ne voljeti?

 

Rado bih da si meni sve, ti koja
Sama si točno toliko, ne više.
Ni rob ni prosta, ni svoja ni moja!
Gdje leži propust? Koje je središte
Rane, jer rana mora biti?     

       

Rado bih tvoje želje prigrlio,
I pogled oka, da mi srce bije 
Po tvome, s vrelā duše bih ti pio
Do volje — da na dobro i zlo mi je
Udijeljen tvog života dio.

 

Ne. Žudim uvis, izbliza te diram,
Stog dalje stani. Obraz ti cjelivam,
Lovim toplinu duše — ružu biram
Voleć je više nego što kazivam —
Tad prolazi minuta dobra.  

     

Zar već je meni toliko daleka
Minuta ta? Zar moram stalno ići 
Ko češljikina glava, bez zaprjeka,
Naprijed, čim puhnu lagani vjetrići,
Bez potpore ijedne zvijezde?

 

Upravo kad se činilo da učim!
A gdje je sada nit? Zar nismo skupa?
Prastara varka! Samo ja razlučim —
Tek beskonačna strast, i patnja tupa
Konačnih srdaca što žude.  

         

(1855)

 

 

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ZiN Daily is published by ZVONA i NARI, Cultural Production Cooperative

Vrčevan 32, 52204 Ližnjan, Istria, Croatia

OIB 73342230946

ISSN 2459-9379

Editors: Natalija Grgorinić, Ljubomir Grgorinić Rađen & Ognjen Rađen

 

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