Conosco una città
che ogni giorno s’empie di sole
e tutto è rapito in quel momento

Me ne sono andato una sera

Nel cuore durava il limÌo
delle cicale

Dal bastimento
verniciato di bianco
ho visto
la mia città sparire
un poco
un abbraccio di lumi nell’aria torbida



I know a city
which day after day is drenched in sun
and everything is rapt in that moment.

I left one evening

In my heart there lingered the shrill
of the cicadas

From the deck
painted white
I saw
my city disappear
a few
an embrace of lamps in the turbid air

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2018

The poem Silenzio/Silence by Giuseppe Ungaretti was written in Mariano on June 27, 1916. It is from the collection of poems Vita d’un uomo. Tutte le poesie, Mondadori, Milano 1986.

In the poem we are touched by the memory, the poet’s memory of a radiant past. It emerges from the darkness of the present, a present filled with pain (the poem was written during the war). The poet’s city of origin, stolen from memory by the blinding sun, is filled with the sound of cicadas, which lingers in his heart even today. The sound rises from the silence, is born from his heart, like a light born from the darkness.

First optimistic, the memory becomes more and more painful: the distance that has come between the author and his hometown is overwhelming. The city fades from view and from memory, and all that is left is the lamps, a few, suspended in the fog.

I would like to dedicate this poem to all those people who have had to leave their homelands.

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