Monday, 3 February 2014

Vittorio Gassman's Meta Milonga for Rodolfo Wilcock and his Cat

The tale of Juan Rodolfo Wilcock's 'talking cat' was explained in another post. Below is my rather rapid and careless translation of the poem that Vittorio Gassman wrote regarding this incident and his homage to Wilcock. Mixed with my shame at the bad translation (all too prosy and literal), is the wish, at least, that something comes through of Gassman's reading of Wilcock and his cat:

Meta Milonga for Rodolfo Wilcock and his Cat.

Rodolfo Wilcock: I know of no other mind
More geometric, more mercurial
I doubt there was another thinker
So funereally intelligent.
It’s little surprise that he was formed
Alongside Luis Borges and Bioy Casares,
Alchemists of the square maze of Daedalus,
Of the great circular ruin.
Moreover it’s not by chance that the word
Death is the symmetric summit,
The greatest of poetic challenges
And the paradigm of another madness.
It’s hardly surprising that his repetition
Is allied with the zeugma and the anastrophe,
That the anagram and the epistrophe
Sound in him as natural scansion;
That from that cryptic rhythm
Larva-like words (non words) were born
“FUTSIRI” … “SERTYVED” … and declined
The hieroglyphics of the great logarithm.
There’s no wonder if in things and people
Contact with his secret code book,
Inoculated the visionary root,
The absurd unicum of mutation.
In the unadorned salon at Velletri
(they spoke of Marlowe for hours)
The Visitor, startled and muted,
Amidst a spurt of dark blasphemies:
For it seemed that a large cat
With a red stomach passed by and
“I’m bored…”  he cursed
… “SERTYVED!” with a perfect pronouncation.
“But I’ve…just seen a cat…” he exclaimed
Wiping his eyes. And Rodolfo,
A little annoyed “Always the same old story.
Yes, it’s my cat … so what?” he muttered.
“Well, a cat… but it’s a cat that talks!”
And the poet “But not always”.
He turned the page and cited a blank verse
Returning to Marlowe.

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