GIUSEPPE UNGARETTI
da L’Allegria
translated by Andrew Frisardi


IN MEMORY OF


His name was
Mohammed Sceab

Descendant
of emirs and nomads
suicidal
because he had no homeland
left

He loved France
and changed his name

He was Marcel
but he wasn’t French
and he no longer knew how
to live
in his people’s tent
where you can hear the Koran
being chanted
while you savor coffee

And he didn’t know how
to set free
the song
of his desolation

I went with him
with the proprietress of the hotel
where we lived together
in Paris
from rue des Carmes number 5
a run-down sloping alley

He lies
in the graveyard at Ivry
a suburb that always
seems
like a day
a street market
breaks down

And perhaps only I
still know
he lived


Locvizza, September 30, 1916

 


 

ENVOI


Dear
Ettore Serra
poetry is world humanity
one’s very life
blossoming from the word
the limpid marvel
of a raving ferment

When I find
a word
in this my silence
it is dug into my life
like an abyss


Locvizza, October 2, 1916

 


 

da Sentimento del tempo


O NIGHT


Out of daybreak’s boundless hunger
Trees–like masts–revealed.

Anguished awakenings.

Leaves, sister leaves,
I hear your ululations.

Autumns,
Dying sweetnesses.

O youth,
Hardly past now, the moment of severance.

Open skies of youth,
Unbridled surge.

And already I am desert.

Lost inside this curving sadness.

But night disperses distances.

Oceanic silences,
Astral nests of wishes,

O night.


1919


 

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