Two Poems by Giuseppe Ungaretti / Translated from the Italian by Wally Swist

The People

The herd of lone palm trees flees
as does the moon’s
endlessness on barren nights

The darkest night
gasps like a spectral turtle

The color that doesn’t last
yet another figure is formed
already the dawn stirs
the embers briefly at our feet
already they distinguish
the approaching echo
of a new wind

Beehives are born in the mountains
of lost fanfare

Return to ancient mirrors
you hidden flaps of water

And then affirming the calm clear
and with offshoots of high snow
edging sharp now a landscape
a sight similar to my elders
sails arise

O homeland your every age
awakens in my blood
Sure, you walk and sing
over a ravenous sea

The deepest pool of love transitions
in the country sky


     Locvizza il 24 settembre 1916

Here is a man
of uniform

Here is
a deserted soul
an impassable mirror
of the world

I happened to wake up
to join with
and possess

The rare goodness that is born to me
so slowly born to me

And when it lasts
it insensibly dies away

Wally Swist’s recent books include Taking Residence (Shanti Arts, 2021), Evanescence: Selected Poems (Shanti Arts, 2020), and On Beauty: Essays, Reviews, Fiction, and Plays (Adelaide Books, 2018). His book A Bird Who Seems to Know Me: Poems Regarding Birds & Nature was the winner of the 2018 Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Prize and published in 2019. A Writer’s Statements on Beauty: New and Selected Essays and Reviews is forthcoming from Shanti Arts in April 2022.

Image: Filippo De Pisis, “Paesaggio con passero e casolare,” 1933. Fondazione Cariplo / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

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