ECLISSARE IL
TAJ MAHAL
di Julio Monteiro Martins

Perché un amore
non fosse dimenticato
il principe Shah Jahan
fece erigere
il palazzo più bello
e gli diede il nome
dell’amata morta
Mumtaz Mahal.

Dopo molti anni
il principe moriva
e ammirandolo
forse confondeva
il marmo bianco
con l’ultima pelle
dell’amata morta.

O forse voleva dire
una cosa molto semplice,
che il suo non era stato
un amore
ma l’amore.

Anche a me
che non sono un principe
si è presentato l’amore,
molti anni fa
(l’amore è democratico,
poveri noi!).
Per l’amore
—dovete perdonarmi—
non ho fatto erigere
il Taj Mahal.
Non ho scolpito
in suo omaggio
un monolito,
né inciso
una lapide.
Per rispetto o per timore
non ne ho scritto
una sola riga,
tranne queste.

La scomparsa dell’amore
l’ho vissuta soltanto
come un buco,
un cratere,
del tutto alieno
a ingegneri e architetti.

L’amore che è stato,
che un giorno ha fermato il tempo
e oggi mi ferma il cuore,
è solo una parte di me
che si è volatilizzata.
Una grande cancellatura
non so dire esattamente di cosa.
Se potessi disporre
di marmo,
schiavi,
anni,
non erigerei comunque
il Taj Mahal.
Rimarrei in silenzio
come ora
a vedere crescere il nulla,
a vedermi sciogliere
come la noce di burro
al centro della padella.

Non avrei eretto
il Taj Mahal,
non avrei nemmeno
graffiato su un albero
il nome dell’amata morta.
Non l’ho mai fatto.

Penso agli altri, sappiatelo.
Per proteggerli
dell’ineludibile
sentimento di cratere
che l’amore lascia:
la sua impronta
immateriale.
Per proteggere
chi non ama
dalla vista del cratere,
dalla vertigine
al guardarne il fondo.
Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Literature
 

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 13, Number 2
(Fall 2018)

Copyright © 2018
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Apple
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

www.applevalleyreview.com
ECLIPSING THE
TAJ MAHAL
by Julio Monteiro Martins
(translated from the Italian by
Helen Wickes and Donald Stang)

So that such a love
may not be forgotten,
the prince Shah Jahan
ordered the most beautiful palace
to be built
and bestowed on it the name
of his dead love,
Mumtaz Mahal.

After many years
the prince was dying,
and admiring
the white marble
mistook it, perhaps,
for the actual skin
of his dead love.

Or perhaps he meant to say
something much simpler,
that his love was not
a love
but love itself.

Even to me,
though I am not a prince,
love presented itself,
many years ago
(love is democratic,
Heaven help us!).
For love
—please forgive me—
I did not order the Taj Mahal
to be built.
I did not sculpt
in its homage
a monolith,
nor did I engrave
a plaque.
Whether from respect or reverence
I haven’t written
a single line,
except for these.

The loss of love
I simply endured
as one does a hole,
a crater,
altogether foreign
to engineers and architects.

The love that was,
which one day stopped time
and today stops my heart,
is only a part of me
that has evaporated.
A big erasure,
I don’t know how to say exactly of what.
If I could command
marble,
slaves,
years,
I still would not build
the Taj Mahal.
I would remain silent
like now
watching the growth of nothingness,
seeing myself dissolve
like a pat of butter
in the center of the pan.

I would not erect
the Taj Mahal,
nor would I even
carve on a tree
the name of my dead loved one.
I have never done so.

I am thinking of others, you know.
To protect them
from the inescapable
crater-like feeling
left by love:
its intangible
imprint.
To protect
those who do not love
from viewing the crater,
the vertigo
of seeing all the way to the very bottom.

_____________________________________________________


Julio Monteiro Martins was born in 1955 in Niterói, Brazil,
but he lived for many years in Italy.  Monteiro Martins was a
prominent teacher, publisher, and writer of essays, stories,
theater works, and poetry.  In his home country, he had
worked as a lawyer for human rights and environmental causes;
in Italy, he was director of the online journal
Sagarana.  To
date, very little of his work has been published in English.  
“Eclipsing the Taj Mahal” is from his final poetry collection,
La grazia di casa mia, which was published in Milan in 2013
by Rediviva Edizioni.  Monteiro Martins died in 2014.  

Donald Stang is a longtime student of Italian.  His translations
of Italian poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in
Silk
Road
, Pirene’s Fountain, Newfound, Catamaran, Ghost
Town
, and in the anthologies Carrying the Branch: Poets
in Search of Peace
, published by Glass Lyre Press, and
America, I Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and
Resilience
, from Sixteen Rivers Press.

Helen Wickes’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in
AGNI, Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Confrontation,
Massachusetts Review, South Dakota Review, Spillway,
Spoon River Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, Westview, and
other literary journals.  She has also published four books of
her poetry including, most recently,
World As You Left It, a
collection published by Sixteen Rivers Press.   


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