Three Grapes

Giovanni Pascoli
Translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock

to Giacinto Stiavelli

Three grapes, Giacinto, grow upon these vines:The first is pleasure, and is clear as air;the next is sweet amnesia. Drink their wines,                                      yes—but stop there,because the third is sleep, in whose dark corner,keeping a keen-eyed vigil (as you know),sits grief. And loud is the mute cry the mourner                                      cried long ago. I tre grappoli        a G.S.Ha tre, Giacinto, grappoli la vite.Bevi del primo il limpido piacere;bevi dell’altro l’oblio breve e mite;                                    e…più non bere:chè sonno è il terzo, e con lo sguardo acutonel nero sonno vigila, da un canto,sappi, il dolore; e alto grida un muto                                    pianto già pianto.

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photo of Giovanni Pascoli

Giovanni Pascoli (1855–1912) was a major poet and classicist who exerted an enormous influence on modern Italian poetry. “I tre grappoli” (“Three Grapes”) appeared in the 1892 edition of his seminal first collection, Myricae, and like much of his work, it is steeped in his history of grief: his father was murdered when he was twelve, and over the next decade his mother and three siblings died of various causes. Pascoli himself died of cirrhosis of the liver.

Geoffrey Brock is the author of three books of poems, the editor of The FSG Book of 20th-Century Italian Poetry, and the translator of various volumes of poetry, prose, and comics, most recently Last Dream by Giovanni Pascoli (which received the 2020 Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets) and Allegria by Giuseppe Ungaretti (which received the 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry from the American Literary Translators Association).

"Geoffrey Brock’s scintillating translations from Giovanni Pascoli’s verse are certain to raise the status of this phenomenal innovator of Italian poetry among the Anglophone readership ... a masterful achievement."
—Giorgio Mobili, 2020 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize Judge

"This collection is a revelation. In Geoffrey Brock’s impeccable versions, Pascoli becomes a poet who demands to be read out loud. Time and again I found myself stopping to savor a phrase, a line break, a rhyme, a stanza. And then reading the poem over from the start. 'The Sleep of Odysseus' is heart-stopping. It’s difficult to overstate my admiration for that tact, grace, and formal imagination that shape these remarkable translations."
—Clare Cavanagh

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