From Giacomo Leopardi’s notes to his own Canzoni. I usually feel decent about my translations but this is straight trash. The two issues are the import of sazietà – around which the whole poem revolves – and the choice for rendering lingua. The dual sense of lingua/tongue as anatomy/language exists in English but the ‘tongue as language’ sense feels a forced archaism in modern speech little in keeping with Leopardi’s feel here. For sazietà the straight sense of ‘satiety, fullness’ does not feel effective in English – ‘satiety with this but never with that’ – so I want to push it to ‘overfullness with this but never with that’. But I don’t think that sense is allowed by the Italian so maybe my complaint is with the formulation of the thought itself. Meh.
Il cor di tutte
Cose alfin sente sazietà, del sonno,
Della danza, del canto e dell’amore,
Piacer più cari che il parlar di lingua,
Ma sazietà di lingua il cor non sente.
The heart – with everything –
can feel sated, with sleep
dance, song, and love,
things more pleasing than the speech of the tongue,
but satiety of language the heart does not feel.