In dormiveglia

Giuseppe Ungaretti

 

 

Assisto la notte violentata

 

L’aria è crivellata

come una trina

dalle schioppettate

degli uomini

ritratti

nelle trincee

come le lumache nel loro guscio

 

Mi pare

che un affannato

nugolo di scalpellini

batta il lastricato

di pietra di lava

delle mie strade

ed io l’ascolti

non vedendo

in dormiveglia

 

As I doze

Giuseppe Ungaretti

 

 

I assist the night defiled

 

The air is riddled

like needle lace

with a hail of bullets

from the men

trapped

in trenches

like snails in their shells.

 

It sounds

like a frenetic

swarm of stone cutters

is beating on the pavement

in lava stone

of my streets

and I listen

without seeing

as I doze

 

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

 

 

 

The poem describes a night in the trenches. The hail of pellets riddle the air, and the poet cannot sleep. He dozes unseeing, trapped in the trenches with other soldiers. The frenetic beating reminds him of his childhood in Alexandria, as the poet himself explains (“gli scalpellini pugliesi assunti dal Municipio dei Alessandria d’Egitto per lastricare con pietre di lava le strade della mia città”/the stone cutters called from Puglia to the city of Alexandria in Egypt to pave the streets in lava stone).
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