Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Giacomo Casanova accepts the post of librarian in Bohemia offered to him by the Count of Waldstein

(English translation of 'Giacomo Casanova acepta el cargo de bibliotecario que le ofrece, en Bohemia, el Conde de Waldstein' by Antonio Colinas)

Listen to me, Sir: I’m weak with sadness.
In the French Revolution my few remaining
friends are dying. Look at me: I’ve travelled
the countries of the world, the prisons of the world,
the beds, the gardens, the seas, the convents,
and seen how they scorn my good intentions.
I was an abbot within Rome’s city walls
and a noble soldier during the hot nights on Corfu.
Sometimes I played the violin a little
and you know, Sir, how Venice vibrates
with music and the islands and domes burn.
Listen to me, Sir: from Paris to Moscow
I’ve travelled in vain, I’m pursued by the wolves
of the Holy Office, I have a hurricane of tongues
at my back, venomous tongues.
And I just want to save my mental clarity,
to smile at the light of each new day,
to show my utter horror about everything that dies.
Sir, I will stay here in your library,
I will translate Homer, I will write of my past life,
I’ll dream of the blue seraglios of Istanbul.

For more translations of poems by Antonio Colinas, go to Translations.

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