Three Poems by Giuseppe Ungaretti

From Allegria, Translated by Geoffrey Brock


This night too will pass

This roving solitude
tentative shadows of tram wires
on damp asphalt

I watch the big heads of the coachmen
half sleeping


“My Rivers”

I cling to this wounded tree
forsaken in this sinkhole
that feels as dull
as a circus
before or after the show
and I watch
the calm passage
of clouds across the moon

This morning I stretched out
in an urn of water
and like a relic

The Isonzo as it flowed
polished me
like one of its stones

I lifted
my bones
and walked out


“The Beautiful Night”

What song has risen tonight
and woven
the crystal echo of a heart
into the stars

What sudden holiday
of this reveling heart

I had been
a pool of dark

Now I bite
like a child the breast

Now I am

–Devetachi, August 24, 1916


From Allegria by Giuseppe Ungaretti. Used with the permission of the publisher, Archipelago Books. Translation copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Brock.

Giuseppe Ungaretti
Giuseppe Ungaretti
Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970) wrote his first book of poetry while serving in the Italian Army in World War I. Much later, after the death of his nine-year-old son, Ungaretti published a collection of poems, Il dolore, which expressed both tragic personal loss and horror at the atrocities of Nazi Germany. His other poetry collections include Morte delle stagioni (Death of the Seasons), La terra promessa (The Promised Land), and Sentimento del tempo (The Feeling of Time).

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