Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2016, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 115–123
81.374 + 81.374.82

Problems of translating poetry from Russian into Italian

Calusio M. 1 (Milan, Italian Republic)
1 University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy

The present article deals with some of the problems of translating poetry from Russian into Italian. On the basis of the first six verses of the Hymn in Honour of the Plague, from Pushkin's A Feast in Time of Plague, the author shows how Italian translators render rhythm and metre when translating Russian classical authors. In 60 years (1936–1996) The Hymn in Honour of the Plague was translated six times, respectively by R. Küfferle, R. Poggioli, T. Landolfi, E. Lo Gatto, S. Vitale, and S. De Vidovich. Lo Gatto is the only translator who uses a rhymed hendecasyllable. All other translators (with the exception of De Vidovich, whose translation is prosaic) use 9-syllable verse with or without rhyme. Küfferle, Poggioli and Lo Gatto somehow sacrifice not only the syntax, but also the lexicon and the images (and, as a consequence, the rhythm) of the original in order to keep the rhyme. This is the reason why today their translations have become irremediably obsolete.


Poetry translation, rhyme, A. S. Pushkin, R. Poggioli, T. Landolfi, E. Lo Gatto, S. Vitale

Problems of translating poetry from Russian into Italian

For citation:
Calusio M. Problems of translating poetry from Russian into Italian. Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University Bulletin, 2016, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 115–123. DOI:
  1. Fortini F. Lessons on Translation. Reality and Paradox of the Translation of Poetry. Four Seminars on Theory and Practice of the Translation of Poetry. (Ed.) E. Passannanti. Napoli, Istituto di Studi Filosofici Publ., 1988–1989, pp. 60 (In Italian).
  2. Solonovich E., Vizel M. Russian Poetry in italian. Questions Literature. 2006, no. 6, pp. 31–50. (In Russian).
  3. Colucci M. Translating Russian (and not only Russian) Poets. Between Dante and Majakovskij. Essays on the Slavic and Romance Comparative Literatures. (Ed.) R. Giuliani. Roma, Carocci Publ., 2007, pp. 354 (In Italian).
  4. Beltrami P. G. Tools of Poetry. Bologna, Il Mulino Publ., 1999, pp. 243 (In Italian).
  5. Cavaion D. Italian Translations of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. “Premio Città di Monselice” per una traduzione letteraria. Atti del IX Convegno sui problemi della traduzione letteraria e scientifica. Le traduzioni dal russo. Monselice, 1981, pp. 43–63 (In Italian).
  6. Ghini G. Translating Onegin. Urbino, QuattroVenti Publ., 2003, pp. 172 (In Italian).
  7. Ghini G. Translating the Rhythm of the Poet. Puškin in Poggioli’s “Rhythmical translations”. Studi slavistici. 2005, no. 2, pp. 81–96 (In Italian).
  8. Gasparov M. A. A History of European Versification. Moscow, Fortuna Limited, 2003, pp. 274 (In Russian).
  9. Etkind E. Word of God: Readings of Pushkin in Russia and France. Moscow, Languages Russian culture Publ., 1999, pp. 598 (In Italian).
  10. Pusckin A. Boris Godunov and minor Tragedies. Traduzione di R. Küfferle. Milano, Mondadori Publ., 1936, pp. 300.
  11. Pusckin A. A Little Anthology of Lirics. (Tr.) R. Poggioli. Letteratura. 1937, no. 3,
    pp. 100–104 (In Italian).
  12. Pusckin A. Drama and Fairy Tales. Versioni di T. Landolfi. Torino, Einaudi Publ, 1961, pp. 356 (In Italian).
  13. Pusckin A. Lyrics. Introduction, trans., notes by E. Lo Gatto.  Firenze, Sansoni Publ., 1968, pp. 1202 (In Italian).
  14. Landolfi T. The Russians. (Ed.) G. Maccari. Milano, Adelphi Publ., 2015, pp. 366 (In Italian).
  15. Pusckin A. Little Tragedies. (Ed.) S. Vitale. Milano, Rizzoli Publ., 1987, pp. 278 (In Italian).
  16. Fortini F. Prosody and Freedom (1957). Essays and Epigrams.(Ed.) Luca Lenzini, Mondadori, Milano 2003, pp. 1849 (In Italian).
  17. Pusckin A. Drama. Traduzione di S. de Vidovich. Milano, Garzanti Publ., 1996, pp. 190 (In Italian).
Date of the publication 10.04.2016