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CHAT: R: CHAT: Ungaretti's Use of Language

From:Mangiat <mangiat@...>
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 le
> '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 Ungaretti
> 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 - in
> it often gives the meaning of existing on the thresh-hold of a change
> per andare" - "I'm about to go") in this case, the soldiers - just like
> 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 from
> 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 the
> the leaves." > > The two words which I quoted, "Mattina" [Morning], are possibly the
> 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 > diiMENso." > > Anything by Ungaretti is well worth checking out. > > -Chollie > > _________________________________________________________________________ > Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at > > Share information about yourself, create your own public profile at >