Giuseppe Ungaretti was born in Egypt in 1888 and died in Milan in 1970. He is one of Italy’s greatest poets of the XXth century. Together with his contemporaries Montale and Quasimodo, Ungaretti embraced a new form of symbolic, lyrical poetry (hermeticism) in which structure, syntax and punctuation were abandoned.
Ungaretti was primarily a poet but also an essaying, journalist (including foreign correspondent for La Gazzetta del Popolo) and academic. Politically, he was closely associated with Mussolini’s fascism and later much criticised for this affiliation. He became Professor of Italian at São Paulo University in Brazil, and then Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Rome.
il pozzo d’amore
di mill’una notte
Agli abbandonati giardini
come una colomba
ch’era uno svenimento
le ho colto
arance e gelsumini
Here is a translation by Kevin Hart (in The buried harbour)
That time again
Marching, forever marching / I’ve stumbled on /love’s well again
In the eye / of a thousand and one nights / I’ve camped
To the deserted gardens / she came / like a dove
In the swooning air / of noon / I picked for her /oranges and jasmine