L’Allegria: Seven translations of Ungaretti

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A Selection of Translations by Wally Swist from the Italian of Giuseppe Ungaretti, from L’Allegria

 

 

Monotonia

 

            Valloncello dell’Albero Isolato il 22 agosto 1916

 

 

Fermato a due sassi

languisco

sotto qauesta

volta appannata

di celo

 

Il groviglio dei sentieri

possiede la mia cecita

 

Nulla e piu saqauallido

di questa monotonia

 

Una volta

non sapevo

ch’e una cosa

qualunaque

perfino

la consunzione serale

del cielo

 

E sulla mia terra affricana

calmata

a un arpeggio

person nell’aria

mi rinnovavao

 

Monotony

 

            Valloncello dell’Albero Isolato il 22 agosto 1916

 

 

Stopped at two stones

I languish

beneath this vault

tarnished

with heaven

 

The tangle of these paths

are in possession of my blindness

 

Nothing is more squalid

than my monotony

 

Once

I did not

know anything

whatever

even the evening

consumption

of the sky

 

And on my African land

I calmed down

to an arpeggio

a person renewed in the air

I remade myself

 

La Notte Bella

 

            Devetachi il 24 agosto 1916

 

 

Quale canto s’e levato stanotte

che intesse

di cristallina eco del cuore

le stelle

 

Quale festa sorgiva

di cuore a nozze

 

Sono stato

uno stagno di buio

 

Ora mordo

come un bambino la mammilla

lo Spazio

 

Ora sono ubriaco

d’universo

 

 

The Beautiful Night

 

            Devetachi il 24 agosto 1916

 

 

What song has risen tonight

that weaves the stars

within the crystal echo

of the heart

 

What an enthusiastic

wedding feast

 

I have been a stagnant

pond of darkness

 

Now like a baby

at their mother’s breast

I suckle space itself

 

Now I am drunk

with the universe

 

Universo

 

            Devetachi il 24 agosto 1916

 

 

Col mare

mi sono fatto

una bara

de freschezza

 

Universe

 

            Devetachi il 24 agosto 1916

 

 

With the sea

I have made myself

a coffin

of freshness

 

Sonnolenza

 

            Da Devetachi al San Michele il 25 agosto 1916

 

 

Questa dossi di monti

si sono coricati

nel lbuio delle valli

Non c’e piu niente

che un gorgoglio

di grilli che mi raggunge

 

E s’accompagna

alla mia inquietudine

 

Drowsiness

 

            Da Devetachi al San Michele il 29 agosto 1916

 

 

These bulges of mountains

lay in the darkness

of the valleys

there is nothing more

than a murmuring

of crickets reaching me

 

And it accompanies

my restlessness

 

San Martino Del Carso

 

            Valloncello dell’Albero Isolata il 27 agosto 1916

 

 

Di queste case

non e rimasto

che qualche

brandello di muro

 

Di tanti

che mi corrispondevano

non e rimasto

neppure tanto

 

Ma nel  cuore

nessuna croce manca

 

E il mio curore

il paese piu straziato

 

San Martino Del Carso

 

            Valloncello dell’Albero Isolata il 27 agosto 1916

 

 

Of these houses

there is nothing

but a few shreds of wall

that remain

 

Of the many

that looked like me

not even much

has remained

 

But there are no crosses

missing in the heart

 

And it is my heart

that is the most torn country

 

Attrito

 

            Locvizza il 28 settembre 1916

 

 

Con la mia fame di lupo

ammaino

il mio corpo di pecorella

 

Sono come

la misera barca

e come l’oceano libidinoso

 

Friction

 

            Locvizza il 28 settembre 1916

 

 

With my wolf hunger

I love

my sheep’s body

 

I am like

a miserable boat

and like the lustful ocean

 

 

Italia

 

            Locvizza l’r ottobre 1916

 

 

Sono un poeta

un grido  unamime

sono  un grumo di sogni

 

Sono un frutto

d’innumerevoloi contrasti d’innesti

maturate in una serra

 

Ma il tuo poplo e portato

dalla stressa terra

che mi porta

Italia

 

E in uesta uniforme

di tuo soldato

mi  riposo

come fosse la culla

di mio padre

 

Italy

 

            Locvizza l’r ottobre 1916

 

 

I am a poet

a unanimous cry

a wad of dreams

 

A fruit

of innumerable conflicting grafts

ripened in greenhouse

 

But the same earth

brings your people

that brings me

Italy

 

In this uniform

of a soldier

I rest

as if I were in

the cradle of my father.

 

 

 

Wally Swist

Wally Swist has published over forty books and chapbooks of poetry and prose, including Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012), Daodejing: An Introduction (Lamar University Press, 2015), Awakening & Visitation, and Evanescence: Selected Poems (2020), with Shanti Arts Books.

His latest book of essays and newest collection of poetry, Taking Residence, was published in 2021 by Shanti Arts.  A Writer’s Statements on Beauty: New & Selected Essays & Reviews is forthcoming by Shanti Arts.

 

Giuseppe Ungaretti (8 February 1888 – 2 June 1970), Italian modernist poet, journalist, essayist, critic, and academic  Influenced by symbolism, especially the French-Romanian poet Tristan Tzara, he was briefly aligned with futurism, Ungaretti lead the experimental trend known as Ermetismo ("Hermeticism"), in which he advocated “a personal approach to poetry,” and  became one of the most significant contributors to 20th century Italian literature. Ungaretti debuted as a poet while fighting in the trenches in WWI, later publishing his iconic and possibly best-known book, L'Allegria (Cheerfulness, Swist translation). During the interwar period, he was a foreign-based correspondent, but after spending several years in Brazil, he returned to Italy during World War II, and was assigned a teaching post at the University of Rome, where he spent his final decades. In 1970, he was the initial recipient of the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature, awarded biennially by World Literature Today.  

 

Main image: The Morning by Umberto Boccioni, 1909 Milan (Wikimedia Commons)

Topic tags: poetry, Wally Swist, Ungaretti

 

 

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Sublime in Italian. In English too.


Pam | 31 August 2021  

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