During last year’s Bagni Di Lucca arts festival I was asked to manage a new section dedicated to the written word. Called ‘Camera oscura’ in recognition of the fact that the area we used had once been a photographer’s shop and dark room, I was given the chance of meeting and introducing several poets from Bagni di Lucca and beyond.
Among those who made the most impression on me was Mara Mucini (see my post at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/mara-mucini-at-camera-oscura-ponte-a-serraglio/ ) . I loved her expressive and direct way of putting across emotions and thoughts in a poetic frame, both unpretentious and expressing deep life concepts, in a language which was easily understood (that is, of course, if you know Italian. However, Norma Jean Bishop has translated several of Mara’s poems in our Tuscan Magazine ‘Grapevine’ of which she is editor).
Mara’s poems discuss what the Italians so appropriately phrase as ‘la quotidianeità della vita’, i.e. daily life. Those panoramas, clearly, seen from a woman who has had a life-time’s experience working in a largely male environment, can deal with the most hum-drum to the most dramatic events, from ecstatic joy to the profoundest sorrow, from dreams to practicalities, from small local things to large world events.
There is a lack of oratory, a use of simple (but not simplistic) language to express Mara’s thoughts and I warmly congratulate her on her new collection called ‘Parole’ (‘Words’) published by that great Luccan publishing House, Maria Pacini Fazzi, and introduced last night as part of the ‘Omaggio all Donna’ celebrations for International Woman’s day at Bagni di Lucca’s Casinò by another vital writer of our area, the historian and essayist, Natalia Sereni.
(Natalia Sereni on right. Mara Mucini on left)
Natalia introduced Mara’s poems with a paper which was a marvel of sensitivity and literary criticism. Natalia described those important concepts of Mara’s substantial new collection which included the theme of memory in all its multifarious moods, and the Mandala (artfully illustrated by Morena Guarnaschelli) which protects through its circular form, invites one to discover one’s essence through its central point and generates growth and creativity.
Mara then gave a short description of her poetic life starting from her youthful days when she would write poems only to destroy them, because she felt embarrassed at disclosing her intimate thoughts, through to the evening’s triumphal conclusion when she realised pride in her special poetic gift and her wish to share it with her audience.
I would invite anyone who can speak Italian to buy a copy of Mara’s ‘Parole’. It’s a book which gives a valuable insight into feminine intuition and the problems and joys which circumscribe the lives of contemporary Italian women. Mara seeks sentiment but never sentimentality. She touches truths but never platitudes and her poems are suffused with a metric music which displays an all-embracing poetical sensitivity.
It was, therefore most, apt that the virtuoso hands of Anna Livia Walker both accompanied and concluded the readings of some poems from Mara’s new collection with her transcendent touch on the harp. Among the items played were Debussy and Handel which helped to combine words and music in an absolutely immaculate way.
I have no doubt that, in terms of artistic integrity, impact and presentation Mara can now only be described as a very significant Italian lyricist. The presentation of her poems was, in my opinion, the highlight of the marvellous week dedicated to Italy’s (and the world’s) women. And it was the best attended too!
Here is a selection of Mara’s poems from her collection ’Stelle’ (stars) which I presented and mostly translated with Mara at last year’s Bagni di Lucca Art’s Festival
Warm summer night, serene night,
in a sea of stars you lose yourself
even under the light of the full moon.
In the immensity that envelops you
you look for answers that cannot be found,
answers you have always sought, and always will.
You turn to that dark light,
asking, praying, inveighing with silent words,
again and again losing yourself in the mystery.
You perceive the meaning of the word “Divine”
and in that quiet grandiosity of stars
hope to see your destiny laid before you.
And so, enchanted, you name them one by one:
the names of those who have left you,
those you love, those you have not forgotten.
At your call they appear more luminous.
Then, ignoring the deceit,
they fade like precious objects,
and in the pure air rests the scent of roses.
Mara Mucini (translation by Grapevine)
Era bello l’amore sognato,
il desiderio di un bacio
non ancora arrivato,
tra innocenti pensieri
Leggevi gli amori
di Paolo e Francesca,
di Lancillotto e Ginevra,
di Dante e Beatrice
Nell’attesa la vita
era grazia, armonia,
un fiorire di cose da fare,
fu un giorno rubato,
in una strada isolata
dal sole bruciata.
svanirono i sogni,
il profumo dei fiori,
mute lacrime di sale,
lavando la ferita,
cancellarono il desiderio,
appassirono la vita.
Love in a dream was wonderful,
the wish to be kissed
had not yet come,
you waited for it,
between innocent thoughts
you searched for it
You were reading about the loves
of Paolo and Francesca,
Lancelot and Guinevere,
Dante and Beatrice.
you were happy.
was grace, harmony,
a flowering of things to do,
But one day
love was stolen,
in a secluded
In the light
the scent of flowers vanished,
silent salt tears,
washing the wound,
IL SENSO DELLA VITA
Ho visto una nuvola bianca
fluttuare nel cielo sereno
piccola, bella, armoniosa
come un velo da sposa.
Incantata son rimasta a guardare
i disegni che riusciva a tracciare:
un aquilone, un gabbiano poi un angelo…
forse custode e, d’istinto come fosse normale,
ho chiuso gli occhi per potergli parlare.
Ho sentito il suo sguardo sereno
come quello di madre che allatta al suo seno
così, come fossi davvero in custodia,
senza timore gli ho chiesto una cosa.
Sai dirmi chi sono? Perché sono qui
dove nulla è per sempre ed in sorte
la sola certezza è la morte?
Il senso della vita cos’è?
Se puoi dillo anche a me.
Ho atteso con il cuore sospeso,
speravo di avere risposta
poi ho aperto gli occhi:
la nuvola bianca si era nascosta.
THE MEANING OF LIFE
I saw a white cloud
floating in the clear sky
small, beautiful, harmonious
like a bridal veil.
I remained enchanted watching
the pictures it traced:
a kite, a seagull and then an angel …
perhaps guardian, and, instinctively as if it were normal,
I closed my eyes to speak to him.
I felt his peaceful look
like that of a breast-feeding nursing mother
so, as if I were really protected,
fearlessly, I asked him something.
Can you tell me who I am? Why I’m here
where nothing is forever and fatefully
the only certainty is death?
What’s life’s meaning?
Can you can tell that to me too?
I waited with my heart full of suspense,
I was hoping to be answered.
Then I opened my eyes:
the white cloud had hidden itself).
LA ROSA SFIORITA
Mi piacerebbe dar sfogo ai sentimenti
con il pennello di un bravo pittore
lo immergerei in colori trasparenti
al ritmo accelerato del mio cuore.
Dipingerei la rosa che a novembre
resiste nell’angolo più bello del giardino
ma, consapevole, che non vedrà dicembre,
profumata e triste tiene il capo chino.
Poi quel fiocco di neve solitario, bianco,
che il vento di tramontana fa danzare
tra i raggi di un sole freddo e stanco
ma che lo illumina e lo fa brillare.
E ancora, quando si posa come una carezza
su quella rosa rossa, ormai sfiorita,
facendola tremare come una giovinetta
che muove i primi passi nella vita.
Di quell’incontro, nato e già finito,
colorerei quel silenzioso abbraccio all’infinito
mentre in una gelida lacrima si scioglie
e, come linfa, l’infreddolita terra accoglie.
THE FADED ROSE
I’d like to give vent to my feelings
with a good painter’s brush
I’d immerse it in transparent colours
To my heart’s hastened pace.
I’d paint the rose in November
still resisting in the garden’s most beautiful corner
yet, knowing that it won’t see December,
fragrant and sad, drooping its head.
Then that lonely white snowflake,
dancing in the north wind
between the rays of a cold and tired sun
illuminating it and making it shine.
And still, lying down like a caress
on that now withered red rose
making her tremble like a girl
who took her first steps in life.
Of that meeting born and already ended,
I would colour that silent embrace to infinity
while it melts in an icy tear
and, like sap, is received by the cold earth).