“Sometimes half love nears solitary two,/ deluding them one hour and unaware and unknowing hurls them afar…”

La solitudine 
Amalia Guglielminetti  

Siamo soli nel mondo: ciascun vive in mezzo a un deserto.
Nulla per noi è certo fuorchè questo vuoto profondo.  

E i contigüi casi degli uomini, e i sogni e le cose
son come ombre fumose vanenti su torbidi occasi.  

Talvolta amor mezzano avvicina due solitari,
li illude un’ora e ignari e ignoti li avventa lontano.  

Ciascun ch’ami il suo orgoglio la sua verità o il suo errore
è un mesto viaggiatore superstite sopra uno scoglio.  

S’illude egli alle prime carezze dell’onde e del vento,
ma tosto lo sgomento dello spazio enorme l’opprime.  

Né v’ha cosa più triste della non colmabil lacuna,
dell’ombra che s’aduna fosca fra chi esiste e chi esiste.    
Amalia Guglielminetti  

We are alone in the world: each living in the middle of a desert.
Nothing for us is certain except for this profound void.  

And the contiguous cases of man, and dreams and things
are like smoky shadows vanishing on turbid dawns.  

Sometimes half love nears solitary two,
deluding them one hour and unaware and unknowing hurls them afar.

Each whether they love their pride their truth or their errors
is a melancholy traveller survivor upon a reef.  

He deludes himself at the first caress of the waves and the wind,
but hard the shock of the vast space oppresses him.  

Nor is anything sadder than the unbridgeable gap,
than the shadow that gathers gloomily amid those who exist and those who exist.      

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2020  

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

2 thoughts on “Amalia Guglielminetti: La solitudine/ Solitude

  1. Dear Mati,

    I always like your work, especially your careful handling of alliteration and other mid-line devices. I wanted to ask you about something in this unique piece by A. Guglielminetti that you rendered here.

    I am referring to what first came to my ear in the last stanza, and, once realized, caused me to re-read the entire poem to find this pattern:

    First is my discovery in the last stanza, namely the rhyme of [lacuna] and [s’aduna], providing a rhyme of the last word in the first line with a medial word in the second line.

    I would seem most difficult to replicate this harmony in the imitation/translation. You appear to have done this partially in a couple of instances, e.g. [desert]:[certain]; [things]:[vanishing]; but less so elsewhere it seems, so I am not sure–did you try to give much thought to this?

    Also, in a slight change of subject, I have read your comparison in 2019 of Montale’s translation of a Yeat’s original, also about love, and in that presentation you gave insight into the feeling tones and individual psychohistories that may underlie those works. So I would ask you here when you have time to write what you think is the background for this one by Guglielminetti. The taste of La Solitudine to me seems bitter actually, and haughty as well, written in the omniscient voice of a third party without actual pity. Thank you.



  2. Hi Joseph,
    Thank you for writing. I (always) appreciate it very much. You keep me on my toes! I don’t remember if we had this conversation before or if I wrote it at the bottom of one of my translations, but when I can’t find a solution I like that respects the poet’s poetic device, I try to replace it with another device (something is lost and something is gained, I guess; or maybe not!). In this case the lacuna/ s’aduna was replaced with alliteration. “Gap/ gathers” was the best I could do because I also wanted to keep the alliteration in the line: (aduna) fosca fra: gathers gloomily (amid).

    As for Amalia: She and Guido Gozzano had what we could call a brief relationship physically and a rather long one on paper. She ran after him; he ran away from her. He had TB and lived with his mother; she was brilliant, emancipated, passionate. Their love letters change after they finally become (very briefly) intimate. It is almost as if the physical aspect of their relationship ruined the emotional, sprititual, poetic one, for him at least.
    Their letters can be found here.

    Click to access gozzano_lettere_d_amore.pdf

    Gozzano is often here on the blog:
    His poem “Parable” is interesting if we look at it from the point of view of their relationship. Once consumed, it was over. Like the apple in the poem. In fact, in an exchange written before they actually meet he writes that if he did agree to meet her he would want to eat her up, bite her to the veins in her wrists and then: ” my mouth would find itself behind your ear, at the root of your hair, and I would bite the nape of your neck” and concludes, “biting is my favourite vice.”

    I don’t know much more: I would have to read all the letters. I don’t know if the poem by Guglielminetti was meant for him: it certainly seems to reflect the ups and downs of their relationship. If I find more information, I’ll surely send it to you.

    Thank you again for writing to me!
    All the best,
    PS: this is quite interesting and includes a photo:


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