• 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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