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Academic journal article The Hudson Review. When I read a "hermetic" poet like Ungaretti, I often get the sense that his language has been pared by doubt, as if he felt that breaking the semantic threads of grammar would clear the way for a renewed sense of meaning in his doubting heart and mind. Or maybe his stitched-together fragments represent vestiges of faith or confidence in life's meaningfulness. Either way, it is an effort, and we feel the strain of it, of a religious sensibility to construct a cloister of language in a secular age.
Allegria di Naufragi joy of Shipwrecks, , Ungaretti's first fulllength collection, established his reputation overnight as one of the leading Italian poets of his generation. Ungaretti's poetry was as new, strange, and, for many Italian readers, exciting, as "Prufrock" or "Mauberley" were to American and English readers of that period. At the start of the s, the Crepuscular poets-most famously, Corredo Govoni, Sergio Corazzini, Guido Gozzano, and Marino Moretti-came out with their Laforgue-influenced, ironic, subdued style, consciously breaking with the past augustness of the formidable Italian patrimony.
Their lexicon was that of everyday speech, their tone self-effacing, and their syntax linear and free of inversions. The landscapes in their poetry were no longer the grandiose ones of Carducci or D'Annunzio, but rather, enclosed gardens and other domesticated spaces. Gozzano introduced modern neologisms into his poems: fotografia, dagherrbtipo, and so on, as well as foreign words. The meter and rhyme schemes of the Crepusculars were less regular than Italian poets formerly had employed, and so their work was an important stage in the move toward vers libre in Italy.
An even more rebellious aesthetic, and one that Ungaretti also emulated in his early writing, was launched by Marinetti's Futurist manifesto, which was published in in Le Figaro in Paris. The aspect of Marinetti's monomaniacal rant that had a special relevance for Ungaretti was his proposal of a new poetic language of parole en liberte, joined in "ever deeper and distant analogical associations.
French culture and education had been de rigueur in Alexandria ever since Napoleon occupied the city, so Ungaretti was completely bilingual from the start.
His early immersion in authors such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Laforgue, and Mallarme, rather than the more usual fare for Italian poets at that time]l of Carducci, D'Annunzio, and Pascoli, had everything to do with Ungaretti's decisive, innovative influence on Italian letters.
Ungaretti came to Europe equipped for radical change. He immediately became an integral part of the intense creative ferment that was underway in Europe, just before the war, as if in anticipation of the irreparable destruction that the war would inflict.
As Ungaretti's close friend the Futurist Ardengo Soffici put it, the arts were breaking "with conventional forms in order to draw closer to the fluidity of life, to its impressions. Ungaretti was in Paris for less than two years, but that was long enough for him to refer to that time, more than fifty years later, as his cultural and social coming-of-age. He attended Henri Bergson's and other lectures at the Sorbonne, became a close friend of Apollinaire, and came into regular contact with the major exponents of the avant-garde: Picasso, Braque, Leger, De Chirico, Jacob, and others.
Having become friendly with the Futurists Giovanni Papini, Aldo Palazzeschi, and Soffici, he was invited to collaborate with them on their new journal, Lacerba, where Ungaretti first published his poems. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page.
Allegria di naufragi (English translation)
Ungaretti, Giuseppe: Allegria di naufragi
Giuseppe Ungaretti and the Image of Desolation