I know, there’s a LOT of poetic license here (particularly with the punctuation), but it’s hendecasyllabic translation for heaven’s sakes. Ugo Foscolo’s ‘I Sepolcri’ is no easy ride. These are the first 20 lines or so of Foscolo’s magnum opus:
All’ombra de’ cipressi e dentro l’urne
confortate di pianto è forse il sonno
della morte men duro? Ove piú il Sole
per me alla terra non fecondi questa
bella d’erbe famiglia e d’animali,
e quando vaghe di lusinghe innanzi
a me non danzeran l’ore future,
né da te, dolce amico, udrò piú il verso
e la mesta armonia che lo governa,
né piú nel cor mi parlerà lo spirto
delle vergini Muse e dell’amore,
unico spirto a mia vita raminga,
qual fia ristoro a’ dí perduti un sasso
che distingua le mie dalle infinite
ossa che in terra e in mar semina morte?
Vero è ben, Pindemonte! Anche la Speme,
ultima Dea, fugge i sepolcri: e involve
tutte cose l’obblío nella sua notte;
e una forza operosa le affatica
di moto in moto; e l’uomo e le sue tombe
e l’estreme sembianze e le reliquie
della terra e del ciel traveste il tempo.
Foscolo, himself, did a translation into English, which was HARD GOING. Other people have had a stab at it too. It’s not easy.
The poem was supposed to be, ‘a sublime effort to seek refuge in the past from the misery of the present and the darkness of the future – summoning the mighty dead from their tombs,’– and all of it composed in eleven-syllable lines of verse. This is my version. Of that first bit.
Is the shadow of death as cold and harsh if
we sit in the shade of cypress trees, so to
comfort ourselves by weeping over this urn?
Where the sunlight does not yet caress the earth,
this grass, these animals; when the minutes pass
but I see no future days; nor hear, my sweet,
from your lips, the harmony of your verses;
the spirits of the virgin Muses and love
find grief and silence within my broken heart;
you were the heart, spirit and soul of my life;
there is no comfort for me in dark, long days.
This tomb, this urn, this stone may lay in my arms,
but death unites our bones in heaven and earth.
It is right, Pindemonte! All hope is lost,
my dreams wither and flee this mausoleum;
oblivion surrounds me and all is dark
as a force of nature pulls us towards death.
An eternal motion turns the wheel of life;
each man, his life; his tomb, these earthly relics;
All that is left of our mortal remains will
become an everlasting sweet memory.
from earth unto heaven, transcending all time.
Come on. He does look a bit like Guy Martin, doesn’t he.