Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Pier Paolo Pasolini: Eight poems for Ninetto (1970–73)

Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ninetto Davoli
Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ninetto Davoli

Translation from Italian & Commentary by Peter Valente

[These poems are part of a sequence whose central focus is Pasolini’s love for the young actor Ninetto Davoli.  They are selected from the 112 works that exist in various states of draft and revision, most of them written during the filming of the “Canterbury Tales” in England and completed on Pasolini’s return to Italy. The last poem in the sequence is dated “February 1973.”]

Jerome Rothenberg: Three variations on Octavio Paz's 'Blanco'

For the 100th anniversary of Octavio Paz’s birth


1. white as the land looks | the vultures | white also | circle above | each one a soul | glows white | on horizon | or on page

2. the land is the land | it is white | thunderheads cover it | drumbeats | joining the land | & the sky

3. sky receptive to thunder | drumbeats to sky | white to colors | faces to eyes | sand turning white | like the sky

Toward a poetry and poetics of the Americas (4): Jose Asunción Silva (1865–1896), 'Nocturne III'

Translation by Jerome Rothenberg with commentary by Heriberto Yépez

               A night,

A night thick with perfumes, with whispers & music, with wings,

               A night

With glowworms fantastically bright in its bridal wet shadows,

There by my side, pressed slowly & tightly against me,

               Mute and pale

As if a presentiment of infinite sorrow should stir you

Down to the secretest depths of your nature,

A path with flowers crosses the plain

               Where you traveled,

               Under a full moon

Up in the deep blue infinite skies

Its white light scattered,

               & your shadow too

               Thin and limpid,

               & my shadow

        That the moon’s rays projected

        Across the sad sands,

        Where both were conjoined

               & were one

               & were one

        & were one immense shadow!

        & were one immense shadow!

        & were one only one immense shadow!

Robert Kelly: 11 poems from EARISH, thirty poems of Paul Celan [redux], with added commentary by Ed Baker

                       for Dick Higgins
                                                       in memor I am

[TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.  In 2002 I was asked to contribute to Alec Finlay’s edition of translations by several hands of Paul Celan’s poem “Irisch.”  While working on my translation (which duly appeared in the second volume, Irisch (2), Edinburgh 2002), I began to work on other dimensions of the poem, then of other Celan poems.  The present homeophonic translations are one result.

Julie Carr and Jeffrey C. Robinson: From 'An Introduction to Active Romanticism'

Cover drawing (“Ruckenfigur”) for Active Romanticism, by Susan Bee
Cover drawing (“Ruckenfigur”) for Active Romanticism, by Susan Bee

[The excerpt below comes from the introduction to Carr’s and Robinson’s Active Romanticism: Essays on the Continuum of Innovative Poetry and Poetics from the 18th Century to the Present, which University of Alabama Press will be publishing later this year.  Designed as a followup to Poems for the Millennium, volume 3, in which Robinson & I tried to create an assemblage or anthology of romantic & postromantic poetry, this volume will bring together essays & critical work by a number of poets & scholars: Dan Beachy-Quick, Jacques Darras, Rachel Blau Duplessis, Judith Goldman, S.P. Jarvis, Andrew Joron, Nigel Leask, Jennifer Moxley, Bob Perelman, Jerome Rothenberg, Elizabeth Willis, and Heriberto Yépez. (J.R.)]