Section I: Poetry in Translation from Italian to English

Amalia Guglielminetti

Published on July 2016  ♦  by Sabbia Auriti

Amalia Guglielminetti, “La felicità”

Translated by Sabbia Auriti

 

Amalia Guglielminetti  was born in Turin, Italy in 1881 to a well to do family of industrialists from the Piedmontese town of Novara. Guglielminetti’s literary production and personal lifestyle raised issues concerning the construction of women’s writing and gender identity that remain very much alive today. Her extensive opus includes works of fiction, I volti dell’amore (Faces of Love, 1913) and Emma (Emma, 1909); stories for children, La reginetta Chiomadoro (Princess Goldenlocks, 1915), and the play Nei e Cicisbei (Beauty Marks and Ladies’ Men, 1926). However, it is with her poetry – Voci di giovinezza (Voices of Youth, 1903), Le Vergini Folli (Mad Virgins, 1907), Le Seduzioni (Seductions, 1909), and L’Insonne (Sleepless, 1913) – that Guglielminetti won critical acclaim. Guglielminetti described herself as a sensuous woman who wanted to be accepted by the predominantly male intellectual elite of her time, while simultaneously refusing to give up her sexuality and individuality. Through her writing, she created the image of a woman capable of speaking about her own sexual needs and desires. Compared with other innovative women writers of her time, such as Sibilla Aleramo, Ada Negri, and Matilde Serao, Guglielminetti appears eccentric in her behavior – an individual whose life might be labeled as that of an ‘outsider.’ The expression of her individuality ranged from the way she dressed to her poetic voice, that many literary critics and public considered a transgression of cultural immobility ad fixity.

 

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La felicità

 

   Ma quella che va sola ancora sa

tratto tratto pel suo vagabondare

trovar qualch’ombra di felcita`.

   Oh! ma un’ombra cosi lieve che pare

quella del pesco, quando primavera

gli fa una veste di rosette amare.

   Certa non e` se gioia era o non era,

e a sera lo domanda ella a se`  stessa

sciogliendo adagio la sua chioma nera.

   O voce che dicevi si sommessa:

-Mi piaci!- o riso di perplessita`,

o mano che non parla ma confessa,

eri o non eri a felicita`?

 

***

 

Happiness

   Still, she who walks alone,

step after step as she wanders,

finds a trace of happiness.

   Oh! But it is such a soft shadow, like

peach petals, when spring dresses the tree

with slightly bitter buds.

   She is unsure whether it was happiness

or not, at night ponders the question,

while slowly undoing her black tresses.

   Oh! Voice.  You slowly murmured:-

I yearn for you – or Oh! Perplexed laughter.

Or the hand that silently confesses,

were you or were you not real happiness.

***

 

Sabbia Auriti, Ph.D., is a lecturer in Italian American Studies at Stony Brook University. She focuses on the role of Italian American women in immigration. Her literary production includes the English translation of Amalia Guglielminetti’s love letter to Guido Gozzano and Guglielminetti’s three poetry collections, in “The Nomad subject: an introduction to the poetry and letters of Amalia Guglielminetti.” Auriti has taught Italian language and culture and Women Studies at Hunter College (CUNY) and St. John’s University, New York. Her research in Italian American Studies (Women of Ellis Island), concentrating on the role of Italian American Women’s WWI relief effort, will be published in the fall of 2016 in Quaderni di Italianistica.

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