Natale by Giuseppe Ungaretti

Posted on 24. Dec, 2008 by in Culture

Natale (Christmas) is upon us with all its frenetic rhythms: shopping, cards, presents, parties, expectations of happiness, peace and goodwill. But in my mind there are a few whispered words: it’s a poem, written by Giuseppe Ungaretti during the First World War, that we used to study at Christmas time when I was at school.

Giuseppe Ungaretti, one of my favorite Italian poets, was born in Egypt in 1888 of Italian parents. In 1912 he went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne, and whilst in Paris he met many avant-guard artists, from Picasso to Braque, from Modigliani to De Chirico, as well as the poet Apollinaire. In 1915 he moved to Italy, where he published his first volume of verse. When Italy entered the Great War he enlisted as a volunteer.

Unagaretti’s life, and therefore his poetic work, is marked by two tragedies: the experience of the First World War, and the death of his nine-year-old son in 1939.

I love Ungaretti’s poems because of the very powerful images and emotions which they suggest, through often very short verses and an apparently simple language. But Ungaretti is a master of condensing language so that each word becomes essential, fully charged with symbolic meaning, and balanced against silence, represented by the white spaces on the page, as in this particular poem, which expresses the need to withdraw into a warm, cozy place, both physical and spiritual.

 

Natale

 

Non ho voglia

di tuffarmi

in un gomitolo

di strade

 

Ho tanta

stanchezza

sulle spalle

 

Lasciatemi così

come una

cosa

posata

in un

angolo

e dimenticata

 

Qui

non si sente

altro

che il caldo buono

 

Sto

con le quattro

capriole

di fumo

del focolare

 

Christmas

 

I don’t have the will / to dive / into a tangle / of streets

I have so much / weariness / on my shoulders

Leave me / like a / thing / placed / in a / corner / and forgotten

Here / one feels nothing / other / than the good warmth

I’ll stay / with the four / somersaults / of smoke / from the hearth.

 

Vi auguro un Natale pieno di pace e amore

I wish you a Christmas full of Peace and Love

 

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3 Responses to “Natale by Giuseppe Ungaretti”

  1. susan 26 December 2008 at 11:50 pm #

    How nice that is…Thank you for sharing!
    Buon Natale

  2. Edoardo Mutazzi 25 December 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Tank you Serena for bringing us the italian cultural example appropieted for time being.

  3. Susan 27 December 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Una bellissima poesia! Grazie.


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