Tuesday, 2 February 2010


“Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination.” - Voltaire

For poetry Wednesday today, an old poem of mine that I have only recently translated into English. Translating poetry is difficult, even if it is one’s own, as there are many factors to consider. Meaning, rhyme, metre, cadence and alliteration, the sheer sound of the words as they resonate in one’s ears as they are recited. The Italians have a proverb: “Traduttore, traditore”, usually rendered in English as “translator, traitor”, losing the punning quality but preserving meaning. I chose to preserve the “feel” of the poem and its rhyming. In both versions, the word “love” is not mentioned, even though this is the obvious subject.

That Little Something

What a feeling... Almost nothing,
In my mind and in my heart.
It is nothing or it’s something;
But it makes me jump and start...

What could I be lacking now?
What I need and what I want
Would my sweetest fate allow,
Or its lack my dreams to haunt?

Is it hunger, is it thirst?
No, my stomach wildly turns.
What to wish for, should I, first?

Ease of mind, for which it yearns?
Or peace of heart, about to burst?
What a feeling... How it burns!

(The illustration is Étienne-Maurice Falconet’s “Seated Cupid” [1757] in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.)

Oh, and here is the original poem in Greek:

Το κάτι τι

Νοιώθω ένα κάτι τι,
Μα δεν ξέρω τι ‘ναι, τι;
Η καρδιά μου φτερουγίζει,
Το μυαλό μου πεταρίζει…

Θέλω κάτι και τι νά ‘ναι,
Είν’ γλυκό, κι όλοι ζητάνε.
Τι πικρό που δεν το έχω,
Μα τι να ‘ναι δεν κατέχω.

Νά ‘ναι δίψα του πιοτού;
Νά ‘ναι πείνα φαγητού;
Το στομάχι μου γυρίζει,
Δεν τα θέλει τα ξενίζει…

Νοιώθω ένα κάτι τι,
Μα δεν ξέρω τι ‘ναι, τι;
Την εικόνα σου μονάχα
Εσέ θέλω, αυτό νά ‘χα!

Jacqui BB hosts Poetry Wednesday, please visit her blog for more poems!


  1. Beautiful poem. It's a feeling we are all familiar with, I'm sure. It's not unlike this restless feeling I'm having now as the temperatures rise just a little and the snow starts to melt.

  2. Beautiful poem...it seems to have lost nothing in translation!

  3. I like this poem Nic. Yes, it's funny that queasy feeling of love starting to make itself felt, isnt it?

  4. "No, my stomach wildly turns.
    What a feeling... How it burns!"

    I fell in love-at-first-sight once, and it caused me to faint.
    He drove me home and eventually we married.

    Dear NV - I had not realised you were multi-lingual and now I am even more impressed by everything I have read here previously.
    You rock.

  5. I can't comment on the Greek version, but the English one is lovely, Nicholas. it's a very catchy poem, in fact and I found myself vocalising it as I read it.
    First love is wonderful even if it turns out bad!