Showing posts with label Compassion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Compassion. Show all posts

25 January 2023

Translation: Giuseppe Ungaretti Compassion

Avalokitesvara, Tibetan

This is Bora Mici's original Italian to English translation of the poem La pietà or Compassion in English, by the 20th century Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti. The poem expresses his despair and an existential crisis at the idea of death without redemption, a lonely, Godless world where words are but shadows and where sin does not lead to salvation. Standing alone before him, Ungaretti addresses God directly as in prayer but his poem is utterly human and simultaneously mocking and pitiful towards the human condition. 

Compassion by Giuseppe Ungaretti


I am a wounded man.

And I would like to go
and finally obtain,
Compassion, where is heard
the man who is alone in himself.

I have nothing other than self-righteousness and goodness.

And I feel exiled among men.

But I feel sorrow for them.

Am I not worthy of becoming me?

I have filled the silence with names.

I have broken my heart and mind into smithereens
in order to fall into the slavery of words?

I rule over ghosts.

Oh dried leaves,
Soul tarried here and there…

No, I hate the wind and its voice
of a forgotten beast.

O God, do those that pray to you
only know you by name?

You have ousted me from life.

Will you oust me from death?

Maybe man is not even worthy of hope.

Even the spring of remorse is dry?

What does sin matter,
If it no longer leads to purity.

The flesh barely remembers
That once it was strong.

The soul is mad and spent.

God looks at our weakness.

We would like to find some certainty.

You don’t even laugh at us anymore?

So, cruelty, feel for us.

I can no longer be stuck
in desire without love.

Show us a sign of justice.

What is your law?

Lightning bolt my wretched emotions,
Free me from unrest.

I am tired of screaming silently.


Sad flesh
Once alive with joy
Half-closed eyes, the tired reawakening,
You see, very old soul,
What I will be, when I fall to the ground?

The road of the dead is among the living,

We are the stream of shadows,

They are the seeds that sprout in our dreams,

Theirs is the distance that remains,

And theirs is the shadow that gives weight to names,

The hope of becoming a bunch of shadows
Is this our only fate?

And are you nothing but a dream, oh God?

At least a dream, we bravely,
Wish it could be like you.

It’s the birth child of the most lucid madness.

It does not tremble in clouds of branches
Like sparrows in the morning
At the edge of eyelids.

The mysterious wound languishes in us.


The light that stings us
Is an ever subtler thread.

You no longer blind with your light, if you do not kill?

Grant me this supreme joy.


Man, a monotonous universe,
Believes he is increasing his possessions
Yet his feverish hands
Produce nothing infinite, but limits.

Hanging from the void
From his spiderweb,
He fears and seduces
Only his own scream.

He repairs the ruin by digging graves,
And in order to contemplate you, O Eternal one,
He only blasphemes.