Three Poems by Franco Buffoni Translated from Italian

Three poems from Italian poet Franco Buffoni, translated by Moira Egan.



I’d like to talk to this photo of me next to the piano,
To the eleven year-old boy with flaming cheeks,
Tell him it’s not worth it to get so caught up
In games with his cousins,
To go along with them, brick-bombing
The neighbors’ dahlias —
Not for fun
But just to feel a real part of their gang.
Really? a part?
I’d like to tell him, Leave them alone
with their targets,
go back quietly and finish your drawings,
your maps. This way,
you will overcome. You’ll have to suffer.


Vittorio Sereni danced very well
With his wife, but not just with her.
It was a question of the knotting of his tie
And of the crease of his trousers.
Because that was the education
Of an infantry officer,
Authoritative and, when needed, tough,
Both with family and at work.
Tough with his underlings, protecting yet
Requiring of them absolute obedience:
“It’s an order!”
Recognizing peers with whom to establish
Relationships of alliance or of absolute
Organizing his library, series by series.


I was looking for the documents to our house,
An ancient change-of-property, with maps,
In a bag that had been closed for thirty years.
There was his scent,
An officer’s uniform.
It wafted out fresh
And covered me
In singular love.

About the author

Franco Buffoni (b. 1948) is an Italian poet, translator, and professor of comparative literature and literary criticism. He was born in Gallarete (Lombardy) and has lived in Rome for many years. A full professor of literary criticism and comparative literature, he taught for 30 years at the universities of Bergamo, Cassino, IULM Milan, Parma and Turin. Buffoni is the founding editor of Testo a Fronte (1989), an important journal dedicated to the theory and practice of literary translation; he is also the editor of Quaderni italiani di poesia contemporanea, which has been published biennially since 1991. His numerous books of poetry have won many prestigious Italian prizes; he has also published four novels. Always mindful of the fruits of cultural sharing, in 1999, he published two substantial collections of English poetry in translation: Songs of Spring and Una Piccola Tabaccheria.

About the author

Moira Egan is an American poet/translator who lives in Rome. She has published eight volumes of poetry (five in the U.S.; three in Italy); the most recent of these are Synæsthesium (The New Criterion Prize, 2017) and Olfactorium (Italic PeQuod, 2018). Her poems, essays, and translations have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad. With her husband, Damiano Abeni, she has published volumes in translation in Italy by authors including Ashbery, Barth, Bidart, Ferlinghetti, Hecht, Simic, Strand, and Charles Wright. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where James Merrill chose her graduate manuscript for the David Craig Austin Prize.

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