Paola Musa

Paola Musa

Paola Musa is a novelist, poet and songwriter who was born in Sardinia. She studied modern languages (German and English) at La Sapienza University, Rome, where she now lives.

She has published two novels: Condominio occidentale (Eastern Condominium), 2008 and Il terzo corpo dell’amore (The Third Body of Love), 2009, both from Salerno Editrice, Rome. Condominio occidentale won the prize for Italian first novels at the 2009 Festival du Premier Roman Chambery, France, and the Price Città di Cuneo Primo Romanzo, Italy.

As a librettist, she wrote lyrics for the musical Datemi tre Caravelle (Give me three sailing ships), based on the story of Christopher Columbus, with music by Stefano Di Battista. In 2005-2006, this play was performed, with lead actor Alessandro Preziosi, in the Taormina Amphitheatre, Sicily, at the Sistina Theatre, Rome, and at major theatres in Milan, Pescara and Naples. Paola Musa also writes song-lyrics in collaboration with musicians and composers.

A selection of her poems entitled Lo stato delle cose (The state of things) was includes in a prize-winning selection, edited by Elisabetta Sgarbi, for Arpanet Editrice, Milan, 2005. She won 2006 Renata Canepa Prize with her poem L’angelo sterminatore (The exterminating angel).

She has published her own poems and translations of Richard Berengarten’s work in several magazines, including Chorus (Genoa) and on the web. She is now working on a long poem entitled Anse di memoria (Loops of Memory) about her Sardinian Roots.

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(Nuragic fortress, Sardinia)

You could have loved me
among the silent fortresses
of our unknown ancestors.
Now bitter is the meantime in your eyes.

No verb, then, among the olive trees.
No scroll, save the wind.
This land loves to love signs,
let the words of the living stay secret,
and be intermixed with a sky so clear
it stamps its constellations in our hands.

With just such hands you caressed me
unspeaking. And lifting your gaze
to the lightcone of these towers,
you imagined the valleys, as far as the sea,
forgetting I was with you, or being
so immersed in me, wanted nothing else.

No, no promises here – this
you stuck glueless on my lips
to adhere to them, like stones.

Now this land has covered you
but with no votive gifts for your journey,
the architecture of your embrace
comes to me clear in dream:

so from these heights, again,
I see the unexplored citadel
of our unconsummated love.

Paola Musa
© Translation from Italian Richard Berengarten & Paola Musa


Potresti avermi amato
tra le fortezze silenziose
dei nostri avi misteriosi,
ma intanto è avaro il tempo dei tuoi occhi.

Nessun verbo, allora, tra gli ulivi.
Nessun cartiglio, tranne il vento.
Questa terra ama più i segni,
lascia segrete le parole di chi è vivo,
s’impasta col cielo che troppo sgombro
ci fissa nelle mani le sue costellazioni.

Con quelle mani tu mi hai accarezzato,
senza parlare. Sollevando lo sguardo
lungo il cono di luce delle torri
hai immaginato le vallate fino al mare
dimenticando che io c’ero,
o così in me da non voler null’altro.

Non si promette qui
mi hai sigillato sulle labbra – si sta –
come le pietre senza collante.

Ora che la terra ti ha coperto
senza doni votivi per il viaggio,
l’architettura del tuo abbraccio
mi appare chiara in sogno:

così rivedo, da queste altezze,
la cittadella inesplorata
del nostro amore incompiuto.

© Paola Musa

In this light

Stay in this light
where the tree is transfigured
together with its branches
and my body intertwines with summer
naked as blue sky
emptied as the well
you drank from
before you knew my name.

Paola Musa
© Translation from Italian Richard Berengarten & Paola Musa

In questa luce

Fermati in questa luce
dove il fusto trasfigura
insieme ai rami
e il mio corpo s’intreccia all’estate
nudo come l’azzurro
svuotato come il pozzo
da cui hai bevuto
prima di sapere il mio nome.

© Paola Musa

Published with the permission of Paola Musa