CHAT: R: CHAT: Ungaretti's Use of Language
|Date:||Wednesday, September 13, 2000, 10:14|
Really a good work, Chollie! As you all have probably noticed, a
characterstic of Ungaretti 'ermetica' poetry is the fact that without the
title, many of his poems could be completely misunderstood. 'Mattina',
'Soldati', 'Natale' are all exemples of this.
> Luca Mangiat wrote:
> "Ungaretti was a great poet. 'Si sta come d'autunno sugli alberi lefoglie',
> 'Natale' ... his poetry is called 'ermetica' because of its obscurity, but
> at least it's Italian!"
> and Andrew Smith queried:
> "What does the line of poetry translate as?"
> I hope Luca won't mind if I do the honors!
> The line comes from the poem "Soldati" [soldiers] which Ungarettiwrote
> in 1918.
> Actually, it's the whole poem. Ungaretti frequently writes very
> concise poems, partly because he composed these poems while huddled in the
> trenches during the Great War. His style was to use simple words and
> capture their raw power.
> In essence, it translates roughly as (referring to the soldiers)
> they are like leaves on the trees in Autumn
> The verb "stare" implies much more than I can render here - inItalian,
> it often gives the meaning of existing on the thresh-hold of a change("sto
> per andare" - "I'm about to go") in this case, the soldiers - just likethe
> leaves in Autumn - are about to fall. He also uses an impersonal
> construction (literally "one stands..." which I have rendered using the
> English impersonal "they...") because he himself was among the soldiers
> preparing to meet their fate. Ungaretti borrowed this lovely image fromthe
> Classics (IIRC, Homer was the first to compare soldiers to leaves falling
> from trees).
> In order to *truly* appreciate the magic of Ungaretti, you have to
> imagine him reciting it in his inimitable way - concentrated, intense,
> heavily dramatic - he would say "si sta come <dramatic pause> d'autunno
> <even more dramatic pause> sugli alberi <postitively pregnant pause> le
> folie." You've probably noticed that the syntax is a little stilted -
> literally translated, it would be "one stands like, in Autumn, on thetrees,
> the leaves."
> The two words which I quoted, "Mattina" [Morning], are possibly thetwo
> most well-known words in the Italian language, "m'illumino d'immenso."
> This, very roughly, translates as "I am enlighted by the immensity"
> (referring to dawn). IIRC, Ungaretti would have said "miiilLUUUmiino
> Anything by Ungaretti is well worth checking out.
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