Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Giuseppe Ungaretti’s poem ‘Mattina’ (‘Morning’) may be the shortest great poem of the last century:


As Alistair Reid says in his anthology Italian Landscape Poems, this is ‘a landscape poem with no landscape in it, no history, and no person but the narrator’. Ungaretti began his career as Italy’s poet of the Great War, and ‘Mattina’ reflects the poet’s feelings after surviving another dangerous night (for more information, in Italian, see this Ungaretti site).

Alistair Reid tried out several English versions of the poem in an attempt to capture its many possible meanings, but perhaps it hardly needs to be translated. Patrick Creagh made no attempt in the Penguin Modern Poets edition of Ungaretti’s verse (1971), saying that ‘Mattina’ is untranslatable. Nor does it feature among the more recent Carcanet Selected Poems translated by Andrew Frisadi, although Frisadi does have a stab at it in the introduction.


Giulia Pratico' said...

Thank you for posting your comment about this beautiful italian poem. It's my absolute favourite and I was trying to 'translate it' for an English friend of mine... your words helped me out very much!


Piercing The Veil said...

i just had a post about it yesterday... tnx for your post at list now i know that the translation in the penguin books is not enought to suffice urangetti's words...