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Monday, 28 November 2011

Giuseppe Ungaretti: A Red Dress (12 September 1966)


Seated Woman: Egon Schiele, Vienna, 1913

You popped up at the gate
In a red dress
To tell me you're the flame
That consumes, yet ignites again.

A thorn from your carmine
Rose has pricked my finger
So that you may taste my blood, as though
It were already yours.

Loitering at the end of that street
That breaks open
The sky from within, I had already known
Long ago that, in suffering
With reckless faith for love,
Age counts as nothing.

That was on a Monday,
To hold hands
And talk pleasantly
We could find refuge only
In a sad garden
Of the convulsive city.

Nude with orange-red cloth: Egon Schiele, c. 1913

12 Settembre 1966

Sei comparsa al portone
in un vestito rosso
per dirmi che sei fuoco
che consuma e riaccende.

Una spina mi ha punto
delle tue rose rosse
perché succhiasse al dito,
come già tuo, il mio sangue.

Percorremmo la strada
che lacera il rigoglio
della selvaggia altura,
ma già da molto tempo
sapevo che soffrendo con temeraria fede,
l’età per vincere non conta.

Era di lunedì,
per stringerci le mani
e parlare felici
non si trovò rifugio
che in un giardino triste
della città convulsa.

Standing Woman in Red: Egon Schiele, 1913

The Green Stocking
: Egon Schiele, 1914

Wally with a Red Blouse: Egon Schiele, c. 1913

Giuseppe Ungaretti: 12 Settembre 1966 (12 September 1966) from Dialogo (Dialogue), 1968: translated by TC


ACravan said...

It is so good to read and see Ungaretti here again. Heaven knows I'd prefer at the moment to be cheerful than deep and reflective, but you shouldn't ever turn up your nose at gifts and treasures. Curtis

TC said...


I've taken a shot at this delicate, nuanced poem before, was never satisfied with results, but kept at it... if at first you don't succeed, & c.

Of course we'd all prefer to be cheerful all the time, but even Samuel Smiles must have the odd off-moment, mouldering away deeply and reflectively down there under the ground.

Certainly this last desperate, doomed romance exposed Ungaretti to behind-the-back sniggers from his literary friends. But there is love, and there is embarrassment. The former tends to trump the latter. And there is also a dignity in the true lucid expression of the motions of the heart, at whatever age, I expect.