Giuseppe Ungaretti is one of the giants of modern Italian poetry. He is the second modern Italian poet I present in this blog, the first having been Salvatore Cuasimodo. Ungaretti is brief, his language condensed to the absolute minimum. I was introduced to him by a very good friend who has since then “distanced” herself, but the memory and the intensity remains to date. This post is dedicated to her, with the full appreciation of the fact that she has been “lost” to me, but remains in the sweet cabinets of my memory.
Lets read Ungaretti’s “morning”.
I flood myself with the light
of the immense
Ungaretti was born in 1888 in Alexandria, Egypt. His parents were Italians from the Tuscan city of Lucca. His father, a worker in the Suez canal, died when Giuseppe was 2. His mother ran a bakery in the city limits, bordering with the desert.
Variations on Nothing
That negligible bit of sand which slides
Without a sound and settles in the hourglass,
And the fleeting impressions on the fleshy-pink,
The perishable fleshy-pink, of a cloud…
Then a hand that turns over the hourglass,
The going back for flowing back, of sand,
The quiet silvering of a cloud
In the first few lead-gray seconds of dawn…
The hand in shadow turned the hourglass,
And the negligible bit of sand which slides
And is silent, is the only thing now heard,
And, being heard, doesn’t vanish in the dark.
Ungaretti went to Paris when he was 24 and started working as a journalist.
He served in the Italian army in the first world war and that’s when he discovered his poetic talent. With Montale and Cuasimodo, he is considered the founder of the School of Ermetismo, or Hermeticism.
Like many other great men, Ungaretti was friendly to fascism and Musssolini. Heidegger comes in mind, Ezra Pound… I will never come to terms with this. One comforting explanation may be relevant to their distance from the “real” life of society. Men of the Mind, who are Men of a different world!
Hymn to Death
Love, my young emblem,
Returned to brighten the earth,
Diffused between the rocky day,
It is the last time that I gaze
(By the foot of the ditch, glorious
With gushing water, dark
With caves) at the path of light
Which like the moaning turtle dove
Moves heedless across the grass.
Love, shining health,
The coming years weigh heavy upon me.
Casting aside the faithful walking stick,
I will slip into the dark water
Death, arid river
Forgetful sister, death,
You will be like a dream
As you kiss me.
I will have your footstep,
I will walk without leaving a footprint.
You will give me the motionless heart
Of a God, I will be innocent,
I will no longer have thoughts nor kindness.
With my mind walled up,
With my eyes fallen into oblivion,
I will act as a guide for happiness.
|And now the man himself, reciting his poem.
In this dialog with Death, I find myself in dialogue with my “friend”.
A lost love is in the memory the personification of death.
“You will give me the motionless heart”
I still hold the motionless heart in my hands.
And Christmas does not help, as it widens the gasping wounds.
The feeling of all the opportunities lost is a feeling that can destroy. It is the feeling of emptiness. The feeling of the ultimate GAP that invites you to jump.
May be happiness is a Utopian endeavor.
“With my mind walled up,
With my eyes fallen into oblivion,…”
Nobody could have said it better. I am immersed in oblivion.
And what comes next?
“The hand in shadow turned the hourglass,….”
The sense of the ticking clock.
The sense of the invisible hand.
The sense of the warmth of the body that became a memory burried in the sand of the clock.
“The perishable fleshy-pink, of a cloud…”
Her flesh is a cloud.
Unforgettable cloud. That I see every morning.
The art of being through emptiness.
“I will slip into the dark water
There is no regret, only emptiness.
Which is worse.
|Silence is the only thing heard.
And the hand turns the hourglass yet again…