Montale's 'Il Balcone'

This week I'm really pleased to be able to reproduce Ben Wilkinson's version of Eugenio Montale's short lyric 'Il Balcone'. The poem is a favourite of mine and one which I've tried translating before, though never as well as this.

The Balcony

after Eugenio Montale

Remember those nights I’d linger below
as you stood in the stars and we’d talk
of leaving, as if auditioning for the part
of Romeo and fluffing my lines as usual?

Now on the opposite side I lean smoking
and think on that handful of chances.
The latticework of some distant tower block
a chessboard that’s cleared after stalemate.

Somewhere beyond a long flight’s expanses
you spark a Zippo and light one up. Here
it starts raining as I hang in the moment,
turn towards this window’s squaring of dark.

© Ben Wilkinson, reproduced by permission of the poet

Ben Wilkinson was born in Stafford, Staffordshire in 1985. He read English and Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, and was awarded an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam University. His pamphlet of poems, The Sparks, was published as part of tall-lighthouse’s Pilot series. He regularly reviews new poetry for the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement, and he was shortlisted for the Picador Poetry Prize. He lives and works in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.


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