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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Ungaretti: Il Porto Sepolto/The Buried Harbour


File:Alexandria egypt.jpg

Mariano 29 giugno 1916

Vi arriva il poeta
e poi torna alla luce con i suoi canti
e li disperde

Di questa poesia
mi resta quel nulla
d'inesauribile segreto

File:Alexandria from Quitbays Citadel.jpg

Mariano 29 June 1916

There comes the poet
and then back to light with his songs
and scatters them

In this poem
that nothing remains to me
of an inexhaustible secret

File:Winter in alexandria.jpg


Il porto sepolto (The Buried Harbour): Giuseppe Ungaretti, from Il porto sepolto, 1916, trans. TC

Alexandria, Egypt, 2 March 1990: photo by NASA
Alexandria from Quitbays Citadel: photo by Ahmed Dokmak, 2006
Winter in Alexandria: photo by Abdelrhman 1990, 2008
Sunset over Citadel of Quaitbay: photo by Ahmed Sherif, 2008

Ungaretti was born in Alexandria in 1888, the son of an Italian from Lucca who had come to Egypt to work on the building of the Suez Canal. It was not until his mid-twenties that the poet saw Italy for the first time. The poem he chooses in late 1916 as title piece for a selection from his ongoing fragmentary poetic self-examination of conscience -- composed during front line service with the Italian army in the trenches of World War I -- suggests that, as he would later state explicitly, he regards the sunken ancient port of Alexandria as a symbol of his poetry. With its mysterious silences and depths, the work inscribes a mythic history of presence within the irretrievably lost.


Phanero Noemikon said...




Two beautiful poems (GU and TC)) and yes , "a mythic history of presence within the irretrievably lost."

Curtis Roberts said...

I love and am entranced by the Alexandria photos, particularly the Winter In Alexandria image. As for the poem, it has me as deep in Ungaretti research as I can currently manage. For some reason the image of the poet identifying with the sunken ancient port reminds me of the anxious sparrow, huddled but hopping, under the car on Shattuck.

TC said...

Thank you thank you Lanny.

Yes, that was a kind of sunken harbour beneath the parked car, Curtis. And me too with the photos of Alex. Some towns just look great from space.

Steve, thanks. I teetered an hour over that line, mid o'night.

Ungaretti thought one would, in poetry, dive into that hidden deeper place, only faintly marked on the ancient maps, get lost, yet somehow manage in the end to swim back up with the treasure of revelation. Revelation of further mysteries, that is.

human being said...

really beautiful poem!

Anonymous said...

these are utterly beautiful - wow!

TC said...

Many thanks hb and B.H... encouraging.