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Five poems from Allegria

L’allegria
by Giuseppe Ungaretti
Translated from Italian by
Geoffrey Brock

LEVANTE

 

La linea

vaporosa muore

al lontano cerchio del cielo

 

Picchi di tacchi picchi di mani

e il clarino coi ghirigori striduli

e il mare è cenerino

e trema dolce

gonfio d’onda amorosa

è inquieto come un piccione

 

A poppa emigranti soriani ballano

a prua s’appoggia alla ringhiera un uomo

e pare un’ombra

 

Di sabato sera a quest’ora

Ebrei

laggiù

portano via

i loro morti

e nell’imbuto

di chiocciole

di vicoli

non si vede

che il tentennamento

delle luci

nel crespo

 

Le diresti in fondo a un’acqua confusa

come il chiasso di poppa che odo

dentro l’ombra

del

sonno

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTTE DI MAGGIO

 

Il cielo pone in capo

ai minareti

ghirlandette di lumini

 

 

 

 

 

 

A RIPOSO

 

Chi mi accompagnerà pei campi

 

Il sole si semina in diamanti

di gocciole d’acqua

sull’erba flessuosa

 

Resto docile

all’inclinazione

dell’universo sereno

 

Si dilatano le montagne

in sorsi d’ombra lilla

e vogano col cielo

 

Su alla volta lieve

l’incanto s’è troncato

 

E piombo in me

 

E m’oscuro in un mio nido

 

Versa il 27 aprile 1916

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRATELLI

 

Di che reggimento siete

fratelli?

 

Parola tremante

nella notte

come una foglia

appena nata

 

Nell’aria spasimante

involontaria rivolta

dell’uomo presente alla sua

fragilità

 

Fratelli

 

Mariano il 15 luglio 1916

 

 

 

 

 

 

PELLEGRINAGGIO

 

In agguato

in queste budella

di macerie

ore e ore

ho strascicato

la mia carcassa

usata dal fango

come una suola

o come un seme

di spinalba

 

Ungaretti

uomo di pena

ti basta un’illusione

per farti coraggio

 

Un riflettore

di là

mette un mare

nella nebbia

 

Valloncello dell’Albero Isolato il 16 agosto 1916

LEVANT

 

The line

of haze dies

at the far circle of the sky

 

Clacking of heels clacking of hands

and the clarinet with its shrill flourishes

and the sea is ashen

and trembles gently

swollen with an amorous wave

restless as a pigeon

 

In the stern Syrian emigrants dance

in the prow a man leans against the rail

he seems a shadow

 

Saturday evenings at this hour

Jews

back there

carry away

their dead

and in the snail-shell

whorl

of alleyways

you see

only the tottering

of lamps

in crape

 

They seem to rise as if through murky water

like the racket from the stern that I hear

here in the shadow

of

sleep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NIGHT IN MAY

 

The sky puts

garlands of little lights

atop the minarets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AT EASE

 

Who will go with me through the fields

 

The sun sows itself in diamonds

of water drops

on the pliant grass

 

I yield

to the drift

of the serene universe

 

The mountains swell

with sips of lilac shadow

and scull with the sky

 

Up in that weightless vault

the spell breaks

 

And I plummet inward

 

And I hide in one of my nests

 

Versa, April 27, 1916

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BROTHERS

 

What’s your regiment

brothers?

 

Word trembling

in the night

like a newborn

leaf

 

In the tortured air

the reflexive revolt

of a man aware of his own

fragility

 

Brothers

 

Mariano, July 15, 1916

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PILGRIMMAGE

 

Hunkering

in these bowels

of rubble

hour on hour

I have dragged

my carcass

worn by mud

like a boot sole

or like a seed

of hawthorn

 

Ungaretti

man of pain

all you need for courage

is one mirage

 

Over there

a searchlight

sets a sea

into the fog

 

Lone Tree Gully, August 16, 1916

 

 


Allegria is forthcoming from Archipelago Books. Printed here with permission from publisher.

 

Image by Antonio Carrau.

Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888 – 1970) was an Italian modernist poet, journalist, essayist, critic, academic, and recipient of the inaugural 1970 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. A leading representative of the experimental trend known as Ermetismo ("Hermeticism"), he was one of the most prominent contributors to 20th century Italian literature.
Translator
Geoffrey Brock is an American poet and translator. He is author of the poetry collections Voices Bright Flags, winner of the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, and Weighing Light, winner of the New Criterion Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in journals including Poetry, The NER, Subtropics, Cincinnati Review, Hudson Review, and elsewhere. He has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.