Sunday, August 18, 2013

Two by G.G. Belli

Two sonnets by the 19th century Italian poet, G.G. Belli (also see here and here) - translations from Anthony Burgess's magical book, ABBA ABBA:

Revenge 1

Of all the Bible stories that they tell,
This one to come is quite the most fantastic.
A sonnet being so damned inelastic,
I'll require two to tell it really well.
Well, now – the exodists from Egypt's hell
Met the mad Malechites who, dreadful, drastic.
Ferocious, tastelessly enthusiastic,
Fell on the Hebrews, and the Hebrews fell.

God made a memorandum. After all,
The Jews pursued the then correct religion.
After four hundred years he called on Saul.
"The Malechites," he said, "deserve the axe.
Spit the whole nation; roast it like a pigeon.
Don't leave a feather on their fucking backs."

Revenge 2
So in God's name Saul went and waded in,
Trouncing them in one horrible stampede,
Goats, calves and all. Mercy maybe or greed
Or something made him save Prince Agag's skin.
Samuel now prophesied about Saul's sin!
"Idolater, betrayer of our creed,
A holier Israelite will supersede
Your reign and make a holier reign begin.

Bring me the prince you blasphemously spared."
Tremulous as a fatted pig, that prince
Stuttered – agag agag aghast, shit-scared.
The holy Samuel did not blink or wince
But raised the butcher's blade that he had bared
And made a mound of Malechitish mince.

All the sonnetti romaneschi

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