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Un intera nottata
buttato vicino
a un compagno massacrato,
con la sua bocca digrignata
volto al plenilunio,
con la congestione delle sue mane
penetrato nel mio silenzio,
ho scritto lettere
pieni d'amore...
non sono mai stato
più attaccato
alla vita


'n Hele nag
neergegooi naby
'n dooie makker,
met sy grynsende lippe
na die volle maan gedraai,
met sy verwronge hande
wat my stilte deurbreek,
het ek briewe
vol liefde geskryf...
ek was nooit
meer geheg
aan die lewe


An entire night
thrown down beside
a slaughtered comrade,
with his snarling lips
turned towards the full moon,
with the twistedness of his hands
penetrating my silence,
I have written letters
filled with love...
I have never been
more attached
to life

Giuseppe Ungaretti, 10 February 1888 – 2 June 1970) was an Italian modernist poet, journalist, essayist, critic, academic, and recipient of the inaugural 1970 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Ungaretti wrote the verses in the World War 1 during the battle of the Isonzo, where he discovered the loneliness and the fragility of the human lot, at the very time of suffering bringing out the sense of brotherhood and solidarity that bind each man instinctively. This poem is among the most significant of his collection and it condenses the meaning: the proximity to death and pain that makes stronger the attachment to life. The poet, who spent the night near a comrade who was killed, wrote letters full of love....

Thank you to Phillip Vietri for sending in and translating this poem... it is and will always remain a universal experience of war!
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