Giuseppe Ungaretti – Poet

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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”.

Mattino

M’illumino
d’immenso

Morning

I flood myself with the light

of the immense

Can  language be more condensed than that?

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.

From left to right: Montale, Cuasimodo, Ungaretti

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

Without regret.

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.

1925

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

Without regret….”

There is no regret, only emptiness.

Which is worse.

Silence is the only thing heard.

And the hand turns the hourglass yet again…

5 COMMENTS

  1. καλημέρα,καλημέρα!
    η εξήγηση που δίνετε για τους ανθρώπους του πνεύματος ότι ζουν σε διαφορετικό κόσμο,αποστασιοποιημένοι από την “πραγματικότητα” απαλύνει κάπως το πραγματικό γεγονός,που είναι οι λανθασμένες πολιτικές επιλογές.έχουμε παρόμοια παραδείγματα να θυμηθούμε από την πρόσφατη ιστορία μας που δεν τα αναφέρω για ευνόητους λόγους.
    γίνονται εύκολη λεία των επιτήδειων που αντιλαμβάνονται την απήχηση που έχουν στην κοινωνία και τους χειρίζονται με τον κατάλληλο τρόπο.
    απορία:τι είναι το G.A.P. 🙂
    φιλάκια

    • καλημερα ρουλα μου, η αποπειρα εξηγησης απαλυνει την βαρυτητα του γεγονοτος! οσο για το ερωτημα σου, GAP ειναι το διακενο, το κενο μεταξυ

  2. Η Ιταλικη ποιηση μου ειναι εντελως αγνωστη,αλλα δεν αφορα αυτη τη στιγμη.Σας ακουω συγκινημενο,με σκεψεις δυσκολες απο τις νωπες μνημες;Ποσα εχει μεσα της αυτη η ζωη τελικα και ποσα μας επιφυλασσει ακομα.Μα νοιωθω οτι και οι πικρες οι θυμησες κατι απροσμενα δημιουργικο και δυνατο αφηνουν μεσα μας,κι ας πονανε παντα.Και ποιος δεν το ‘ζησε αυτο.

    • η ανθρωπινη μνημη ειναι μια αλυσιδα απο μερη, ανθρωπους, καταστασεις, εμπειριες, και οταν το κουβαρι ξεδιπλωνεται, βγαζει πολλα στη φορα!
      διαβασε με την ησυχια σου τα ποιηματα, κι ασε με εμενα να λεω!

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