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Saturday, 27 November 2010

Ungaretti: Pilgrimage


File:Melospiza melodia crataegus.jpg
Song-sparrow (Melospiza melodia) in a hawthorn (Crataegus), Léon-Provancher marsh, Québec, Canada: photo by Cephas, 2009

....Valley of the Isolated Tree 16 August 1916

in these guts of rubble
hour on hour
I've dragged my mud

slithering through
the ooze

an old shoe sole or
a seed of rusted whitethorn

Ungaretti man
of pain
is enough to encourage you

Out there
in the fog
a searchlight
creates a sea

Searchlight beams, Malta
: photo via Imperial War Museum

Italian soldiers crossing a stream under fire, 1916
: photo from Collier's Photographic History of the European War (New York, 1918)

34.jpg (49215 bytes)

Dead French soldiers in the Argonne, 1917:
photo from Collier's Photographic History of the European War (New York, 1918)

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British outpost in Flanders, 1916:
photo from Collier's Photographic History of the European War (New York, 1918)


....Valloncello dell'Albero Isolato il 16 agosto 1916

In agguato
in queste budella
di macerie
ore e ore
ho strascicato
la mia carcassa
usata dal fango
come una suola
o come un seme
di spinalba

uomo di pena
ti basta un'illusione
per farti coraggio

Un riflettore
di là
mette un mare
nella nebbia

File:Gymnosporangium clavipes with aecia on Crataegus branch.jpg

Juniper-quince rust (a fungal infection of Gymnosporangium clavipes), presenting as a canker at the leaf/thorn node of a hawthorn branch, with tubular pinkish aecia extruding from the canker: photo by Ragesoss, 2008

Giuseppe Ungaretti: Pellegrinaggio (Pilgrimage) from Il porto sepolto (The buried harbour), 1916, translated by TC




That song sparrow in the hawthorn ("isolated tree"), that man dragging himself through the mud, those soldiers crossing the stream under fire, dead in mud "in the Argonne," huddled in "outpost in Flanders," followed by that suddenly bright green hawthorn leaf with "rust canker" ----- thanks for this. . . .


grey whiteness of clouds above shadowed
green ridge, blue jay calling on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

recalled this time, pointed
out element of itself

view of the viewer, appears
“flat,” is “pictorial”

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
shadowed green slope of ridge across it

TC said...

And thank you, Steve.

Blue jay echoing song sparrow.

In war and peace.

For those who have an interest, by the way, some other Ungaretti versions:

Secret of the Poet (After Ungaretti)

Ungaretti: Il Porto Sepolto/The Buried Harbour

Ungaretti: Mattina (Morning)

Ungaretti: San Martino del Carso

Ungaretti: Stars

Ungaretti: What would I want with images?

Anonymous said...

This has been with me all day since I read and viewed it. I plan on making Ungaretti reading a winter project. The things you have posted of his (and yours) take my breath away and remind me what is important.

TC said...

Thanks, Curtis. Ungaretti has the same effect on me. A refining and purifying flame that burns away much of the language clutter that clogs the "marketplace", never more so than at this time of year.

These last two translations -- one I've been working on, no kidding, since 1966. The other had been defying me until last night.

Perhaps it was seeing an early copy of The Social Network that caused these attentions, in a negative way, as a reactionary embrace of something beautiful and utterly lost in the face of something sweeping and utterly repellent.

aditya said...

To title this poem (about his life in the trenches) Pilgrimage is essentially a thing to ponder upon. Just like the remainder of the poem.

Incredible selection of images for Pilgrimage. Creating an illusion in the process. Of a lone sparrow overlooking the war in the valley .. a poet writing his poems in the trenches below.

Out there
in the fog
a searchlight
creates a sea

is an absolute classic. Mysterious indeed as many have already said. The lighthouses dipping .. beaming .. for the waters in the dark (?) What is it? Though I do not the least bit of italian, your own translations seem swell. 'To friend' .. 'the incisive/ candour of daybreak on these/ Or those leaves' .. Also, keeping the caps at every new line as they were. Magical poems. Thank you for making me stumble upon Giuseppe Ungaretti.

Also,I had thought that the poem Secret of the Poet (After Ungaretti) was a wonderful 'self addressed' poem until the next day I saw in the comments section that you infact had translated a Giuseppe Ungaretti poem. It is a great poem. Goes very well with you.