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Selected Poems

Giuseppe Ungaretti; Translated, Annotated, and with an Introduction by Andrew Frisardi

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374528926

9780374528928

Trade Paperback

320 Pages

$26.00

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In this Selected Poems we find a major new translation of the work of Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970), a pioneer of the Modernist movement in Italian poetry and one of the leading Italian poets of the twentieth century. His verse is renowned and loved for its powerful insight and emotion, and its exquisite music. Yet unlike many of his peers, Ungaretti has never been adequately presented to English readers. This large bilingual selection, translated with great sensitivity and fidelity by poet, essayist, and translator Andrew Frisardi, captures Ungaretti in all of his styles and phases: from his early poems, written in the trenches of northern Italy during World War I, to the finely crafted erotic and religious poetry of his second period, to the visceral, elegiac poetry of the years following the death of his son and the occupation of Rome during World War II, to the love poems of the poet's old age.

Frisardi's introduction details the world in which Ungaretti's work took shape and exerted its influence. Along with the poet's own annotations at book's end (appearing in an in-depth Notes section, alongside the translator's annotations), an autobiographical afterword, "Ungaretti on Ungaretti," further illuminates the master's life and art. A Chronology and Index of Titles First Lines are also presented.

Here, finally, is a compelling and comprehensive version of the work of one of the greatest modern European poets.

REVIEWS

Praise for Selected Poems

"[This is an] engaging selection of Ungaretti's poetry."—John Taylor, The Antioch Review

"A poet of Orphic secrecies, of spareness, of those resonant silences of the vacant piazzas in de Chirico, Ungaretti is tersely unique and beautifully translated here by Andrew Frisardi. These are poems that begin as irreducible nubs, only to expand to the largest of infinities."—Anthony Hecht

"Here at last is the essential Ungaretti re-created in English—urgent, spare, afflicted, inviolable, humane. Frisardi's searching labor of love has given us something we have long needed—a precise, compelling, and comprehensive translation of a modern Italian master, a singer of unfathomable voids and mysteries, a fundamentally religious poet of the waking dream and the desert silence."—Edward Hirsch

"The eldest and many say finest modern Italian poet, Ungaretti (1888-1970) was born to Tuscan parents in Alexandria. Hence, he was at once a birthright heir of the Renaissance and a child of a quintessentially international city within sight of an ancient culture's desert-bound remains; lush Tuscan hills and empty Egyptian desert are his poetry's mental as well as physical landscapes. He saw action in WW I, endured a dear friend's suicide in Paris, and participated in the postwar birth of modernist French and Italian poetry and art. He eventually settled in Rome, decamping only for an academic appointment in Brazil, during which first his brother and then his nine-year-old son died. With so much tragedy in a life lived largely in a crucible of twentieth-century calamity, that he wrote frequently about death in unsurprising, nor is it wonderful that he became engaged in a profoundly tenuous search for God. His spare poetry, beautiful in two languages in this edition, is the difficult but deeply engaging and affecting record of his quest."—Ray Olson, Booklist

"Splendidly fresh and definitive."—The Washington Post

"Frisardi has accompanied his sensitive translations with an introduction that combines helpful discussion of the poet's literary context with a biographical sketch, adding a detailed chronology of the poet's life and work as well as notes that provide many extracts from Ungaretti's own remarks on the connection of his poems with his life. This is a valuable and skillfully accomplished volume, and for those not acquainted with Ungaretti's uncommonly beautiful verse it is the ideal introduction. It is to be hoped that Frisardi will follow it with a further selection, to give an even broader view of the achievement of one of Italy's greatest poets . . . If any modern poet can be said to have found the song of the Italian language, it is Giuseppe Ungaretti, who in poem after poem, no matter how lachrymose its theme, creates a verbal music that will continue to enchant and to resound wherever Italian is spoken and poetry is read."—Bernard Knox, The New Republic

"In Andrew Frisardi's careful translations, much of Ungaretti's delicacy, mystery, and incantation survives. That in itself is a minor miracle, since translating Ungaretti—one of the [twentieth] century's high masters—requires one to translate sunbeams, fugitive shadows, and echoes even more than words or phrases. We owe Andrew Frisardi a debt of gratitude."—Rosanna Warren

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Giuseppe Ungaretti was one of Italy's greatest modern poets.

Andrew Fisardi's poems, essays, and translations have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and other periodicals. A native of Massachussetts, he lives in Orvieto, Italy.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Giuseppe Ungaretti; Translated, Annotated, and with an Introduction by Andrew Frisardi

  • Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970) was one of Italy's greatest modern poets.

    Andrew Fisardi's poems, essays, and translations have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and other periodicals. A native of Massachussetts, he lives in Orvieto, Italy.
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