The Metabolism of Desire
192 pages, 6 x 8
Release Date:15 Apr 2012

The Metabolism of Desire

The Poetry of Guido Cavalcanti

Athabasca University Press

all pale beside my lady whose lovely face                        ciò passa la beltate e la valenza

and gentle heart show the unworthiness                          de la mia donna e ’l su’ gentil coraggio,

of him who catches a glimpse of her perfection,              sì che rasembra vile a chi ciò guarda;


for she is an earthly vessel of heaven’s grace                  e tanto più d’ogn’ altr’ ha canoscenza,

before whose greatness we are so much less,                 quanto lo ciel de la terra è maggio.

beyond any redemption or even correction.                     A simil di natura ben non tarda.


The fact that Cavalcanti's friend, Dante Alighieri, was a supremely fine poet ought not blind us to Cavalcanti's own, rather different excellence. His love poetry has more of the tang of real-world experience and is as appealing as Dante's, although in a more modern and recognizable way. The two poets both suffer, but Cavalcanti is not so sure that his torments are likely to improve his spirit. He is, therefore, more torn and under greater pressure to find some meaning in his struggles, and, as translator David R. Slavitt declares, "more fun."

RELATED TOPICS: Literature, Poetry
Bringing his genuine poetic gifts to the project, Slavitt’s translations provide stronger evidence of the originals’ poetic qualities than has been available for at least a century. Henry Taylor, Pulitzer Prize winner
David R. Slavitt is a widely known poet, novelist, critic, and translator who prepared these English versions of the poems because he loved them. And, in the end, what other reason for poetry is there?
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