Giovanni Raboni

Every Third Thought:
Selected Poems 1950-2004
Translated by Michael Palma
with an Introduction by Patrizia Valduga


Paperback, 495 pages
ISBN 978-0-9823849-4-7
Bilingual Italian & English, $20


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GIOVANNI RABONI (1932-2004) is considered one of the finest and most significant Italian poets of the last half-century. This volume contains a generous selection from thirteen collections of his poetry, including Gesta Romanorum (1952-1954), Ogni Terzo Pensiero / Every Third Thought (1989-1993) and Barlumi di Storia / Glimmers of History (2002), and thus presents his accomplishment in all its scope and depth. Here are developed his major themes: love and loss; the rewards and responsibilities of being a son, a husband, a father and a lover; the sweep of Italian history from Mussolini to Berlusconi. The course of the poems, both conversational and stylistically inventive, bears witness to the private pains and joys of the author's life and the public shames and outrages of his times. The volume includes an introduction by Patrizia Valduga, herself a notable poet and Raboni's companion for the last two decades of his life; a talk by Raboni on the origins and meanings of one of his most acclaimed poems, "The Wedding"; and a long and revealing interview in which he discusses his childhood, his career, his relationships, his politics and his poetry.


MICHAEL PALMA has previously published thirteen book-length translations of Italian poets, including prize-winning volumes of Guido Gozzano and Diego Valeri (Princeton University Press, 2014) and Murizio Cucchi's No Part to Play: Selected Poems 1965-2009 (Chelsea Editions, 2013). His rhymed translation of Dante's Inferno was published by Norton in 2002 and reissued as a Norton Critical Edition in 2007. He is a poet in his own right, writing in English, with the titles The Egg Shape (1972), Antibodies (1997), A Fortune in Gold (2000) and Begin in Gladness (2011). His chapbook, The Ghost of Congress Street (2008), can be read on The New Formalist Press website.



A subtle rendering of the work of one of postwar Italy's great poetic talents, who deserves to be for better known here. Raboni's work offers an acutely calibrated register of both outer and inner seismic activity, and Michael Palma catches his essential tone beautifully.

~ Jonathan Galassi

Michael Palma has long been among our leading translators of Italian poetry, and his new selection of poems by Giovanni Raboni - a major Italian poet who has yet to receive his due in English - is a wonderfully welcome confluence of talents.

~ Geoffrey Brock





Every Third Thought

Poet Giovanni Raboni


From Cadenza d'Inganno/Deceptive Cadence (1957—1974):

Del gridare

La cosa che a te si rompe dentro di colpho precisa nella
parte alta del gridare, del ridere sporattutto
(spiega l'altro tranquillo: difetto delle corde vocali)
dovrebbe farti capire, no? dovrebbe
metterti sulla strada per capire
l'urto che m'abbassa netto il curore, mi stràngola se
penso quello che avendo si può perdere.

Of the Scream

The thing that suddenly breaks inside you precisely in
the top of a scream, of a laugh especially,
(the tranquil other explains: a defect of the vocal cords)
ought to make you understand, not so? it ought
to put you on the road to understanding
the shock that makes my heart drop sharply, that chokes me if
I think that having means that one can lose.


non ci credo, d'accordo ma non riesco a crederci a pensarci che lui
ieri o domani o in un punto qyalsiasi del tempo dello spazio
generalmente qualcuno
abbia cose da dire progetti ipotesi da formulare su
cose che io solo furbo che sono
posso caprie in
parte avendole inventate al limite — su come
sono precise sottili alle giunture le tue braccia e il muso

e muso e ginocchia da bambina, anima mia.

In General

And yet
I don't believe it, granted but I can't believe it think it that he
yesterday or tomorrow or at any point of time of space in general
has things to say projects hypotheses to formulate about
things that I alone sly as I am

can understand in part by having imagined them to the limits—about how
precise slender at the joints are your arms and the face

and face and knees of a little girl, my heart.

From Altri sonetti/Other Sonnets:

Preghiere per i morti — tutta qui
la mia fede? So solo che ogni sera,
così rispondo, agurzzo la mia povera
visa nel buio per scoprire chi

più m'aspetta, chi mi fa cenno di
là d'un'asciutta e tersa primavera
del '40, '41 all'austra
ombra dei plantani e se e come io l

potrò col mio corpo isorgere, ombra
protettiva e tremante fra lle care
tre ombre così intente a conversare

che né l'erbaccia che il giardino ingombra
né la luce ormai presta a declinare
fa per loro le dalie meno chiare.

Prayers for the dead—is my whole faith right here?
I only know that I respond each night
in just this way, I focus my poor sight
into the darkness as I strain to peer

and see who still awaits, who beckons me
from over there, a springtime dry and clear
in '40, '41 in the austere
shadow of plane trees and if it can be,

and how, that with my body I may rise
again, a trembling and protective shade
with three dear shadows so intent on talking

that neither the weedy garden where we're walking
nor the light that will soon begin to fade
can make the dahlias dimmer in their eyes.

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