"The city of Rome, like London, has its “towers, domes, theatres and temples,” which are recast in my poem (with a nod to one of Du Bellay’s sonnets in Les Antiquitez de Rome) as “walls, arches, baths and temples.” But it is impossible for a twenty-first century poet to recognize, or feel, in any landscape, urban or otherwise, the Romantic heart that beats for Wordsworth. And without that heart, what is there? There is the beauty of the world, of course: and aesthete poets follow beauty. There is even a moment, for the onlooker, in which the emotions of joy (at its power) and grief (at its brevity) caused by this beauty are momentarily resolved in a sense of tenderness at the apparent vulnerability of the city—just as Wordsworth responded to the vulnerability of the sleeping city of London. But this tenderness almost instantly corrects itself, recognizing that Rome, of all cities, with its long, cruel and dazzling history, is utterly indifferent to the individual human life."
Earth has not anything to show more fair,
and you’d have to be dead inside not to feel something—
but what, exactly? There are scholars who could tell me
about the walls, arches, baths and temples, and
it’s not that I’m indifferent to such knowledge,
but long ago I learned to follow beauty.
The city lies flushed by sunset in its bowl,
the snow mountains on the far horizon like a dream,
as runnels of violet invade each street,
and what is left, on a winter afternoon,
is a feeling of joy so closely followed by grief
you might almost miss the moment of tenderness
in which both resolve, as if toward something vulnerable:
though the city does not have you, has never had you, in mind.
Il mondo non ha nulla da mostrare di più bello,
e tu dovresti essere morto dentro per non provare qualcosa-
ma cosa, esattamente? ci sono studiosi che potrebbero parlarmi
di mura, di archi, terme e templi, e
non è che io sia indifferente a tale conoscenza,
ma da molto tempo ho imparato a seguire la bellezza.
La città si distende nella valle illuminata dal tramonto,
le montagne innevate sul lontano orizzonte come un sogno,
mentre rivoli di violetto invadono ogni strada,
e quel che rimane, in un pomeriggio d'inverno,
è un sentimento di gioia così subitamente seguito dal dolore
che potresti perdere quel momento di tenerezza
in cui entrambi si risolvono, come fosse verso qualcosa di vulnerabile:
anche se la città non ti ha, non ti ha mai avuto, in mente.