Some translations from Belli

Since somebody seems to think Belli is due a revival, I dragged up some translations of his work I did years ago. Somebody might like them.

The Lord’s Circumcision

About seven days later in the birthing room,

Wrapped up for warmth in a pile of old hay,

Lay Mary the virgin, undefiled ’til this day,

With the beasts of the field and her blessed son.

Joseph, who to her assistance had come,

When she’d found herself in the family way,

said “Chop, chop, now, we’re off. Today is the day

When we throw a small scrap to the synagogue doves.”

John the Baptist presided in thirty years time.

In the Jordan His soul was washed bright and clean.

Swept away were original sin and earth’s grime.

Some shout “Hosanna”—they make me quite sick—

That He became Christian. I can’t toe the line.

He was a turncoat. I rate Him a prick.

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Paul Potts on Rome

Potts was a Canadian poet who was the last person to talk to George Orwell. This is from his memoir Dante Called You Beatrice.

Rome caught my imagination before I was well out of the station on my first visit as a grown up. I don’t remember it as a boy; all I can remember of that visit was my excitement at seeing the Pope (Benedict XV). I was disappointed. He didn’t look a bit like the way I had imagined God would. He was a thin little man, slightly hunchbacked. Count Sforza in his memoirs says he was the most attractive of the the modern Popes. I find it more difficult to describe a place than a person. I am more concerned with people really. But I love Rome. It is the only natural love affair of my life. It loves me, in the sense that things are always easier for me there than elsewhere. It is like some enormous Latin Dublin. It is in no way like Paris, more like Jerusalem, with wine. In fact throughout history it has had much more to do with the Jordan than it has with the Seine. But even in this I was a rejected suitor, to win a girl you have got to have sex appeal, to stay in Rome you have got to have a “sojorno”.
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