Title Search for the Italian Ashbery Book

By Damiano Abeni

Featured Art: Tetards (Pollards) by Vincent van Gogh

[The following poem (and its Italian translation) reflect the actual search for the title of a selection of poems by John Ashbery published in a bilingual edition in Italy, and it reproduces the structure of Ashbery’s “Title Search,” from And the Stars Were Shining. The book was eventually published under the title Un mondo che non può essere migliore (A World that Cannot Be Better), translated by Damiano Abeni and Moira Egan, with an introduction by Joseph Harrison (Luca Sossella Editore: Rome, Italy, 2008). The translators thought it was aptly Ashberian that the final book title had not been considered in this search, and that it was derived from a poem not included in the Italian selection: “…while you, in this nether world that could not be better / Waken each morning to the exact value of what you did and said, which remains” (“Definition of Blue,” in The Double Dream of Spring).]

Another Day, Same Day. Apprenticed to Eternity.
The Density of the Surroundings. Dirndl. You Thought It Was Wrong.
In the Published City. This Unsafe Quarter.
Saint Benno. A Letter in Its Mouth. Street Musicians. All the Wallpaper
in a Million Homes.

Accustomed to Disappointments. The Sea’s Portrait. A Mountain of Something. Chasm-Dwellers. I Just Like Living. Some Stories Survived.
The Gorgeous Dollhouse. Mr McPlaster’s Face. A Bridge Like That
of Avignon. Our Best Foot Forward.
It Was Raining, It Was not Raining Much.

The 5th Act in Someone Else’s Life. Panopticon. To Question the Source.
The Mustachioed Man’s Wife. Build It Flat. Miles Under the Pilgrim’s Feet.

To Forget Only Important Things. Until Some Day in the Not Too Distant Future.
An Immodest Little White Wine. Foolish Consistency.

It Was Always November. A Box of Candied Chestnuts.
Annuals and Perennials. Tell No One of This. Sensitive Area.

An Aforementioned Rendezvous with August and December. A Star Absorbs
the Night.
So Much in the Night to Come. Clotted Darkness. Night Falls Anyway.
It Could Be Anything. Only the Fading. A Still Performance.

La Ricerca Del Titolo Per Il Libro Italiano Di Ashbery


Un Altro Giorno, Stesso Giorno. Apprendista dell’Eternità.
La Densità dei Dintorni. Dirndl. Pensavi Fosse Sbagliato.
Nella Città Edita. Questo Quartiere Insicuro.
San Benno. Una Lettera in Bocca. Musicanti di Strada. Tutta la Carta
da Parati in un Milione di Case.

Aduso alle Delusioni. Il Ritratto del Mare. Una Montagna di Qualcosa.
Abitanti del Baratro. E’ Solo che Mi Piace Vivere. Alcune Storie Soppravvissero.
La Splendida Casa di Bambola. La Faccia del Signor Di Stucco. Un Ponte Come
Quello di Avignone. Con il Piede Migliore in Avanti.
Pioveva, non Pioveva Granché.

Il 5° Atto nella Vita di Qualcun Altro. Panopticon. Mettere in Dubbio la Fonte.
Il Marito della Donna Baffuta. Fallo Piatto. Miglia Sotto al Piede del Pellegrino.

Dimenticare Solo le Cose Importanti. Fino ad un Giorno nel Non Troppo
Distante Futuro.
Un Immodesto Vinello Bianco. Stolta Coerenza.
Era Sempre Novembre. Una Scatola di Marron Glacé.
Annuali e Perenni. Non Dirlo a Nessuno. Area Sensibile.


Un Summenzionato Appuntamento con Agosto e Dicembre. Una Stella Assorbe
la Notte.
Tanto nella Notte a Venire. Coagulo di Tenebra. E la Sera Scende Comunque.
Potrebbe Essere Qualsiasi Cosa. Solo lo Sbiadirsi. Una Messa in Scena Immobile.


Damiano Abeni is an Italian epidemiologist who, since 1973, has been translating American poets such as Ashbery, Bidart, Bishop, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Strand, Simic, and C.K. Williams. With Mark Strand, he edited West of Your Cities (2003), a bilingual anthology of contemporary American poetry. He has held fellowships at the Liguria Study Center of the Bogliasco Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, and he was a Director’s Guest at the Civitella Ranieri Center.

Piece originally published in NOR 13.

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