Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sunday's Mini-Challenge: Eugenio Montale

Hi toads & friends of the Garden ~  I am happy to introduce you to Eugenio Montale.

Eugenio Montale (12 October 1896 – 12 September 1981) was an Italian poet, prose writer, editor and translator, and recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is widely considered the greatest Italian lyric poet since Giacomo Leopardi

He was born into a family of businessmen in Genoa on October 12, 1896. During World War I, he served as an infantry officer on the Austrian front. Orginially Montale had trained to be an opera singer, but when his voice teacher died in 1923, he gave up singing and concentrated his efforts on writing. After his first book, Ossi di seppia (Cuttlefish Bones), appeared in 1925, Montale was received by critics as a profoundly original and experimental poet. His style mixed archaic words with scientific terms and idioms from the vernacular. He was dismissed from his directorship of the Gabinetto Vieusseux research library in 1938 for refusing to join the Fascist party. He withdrew from public life and began translating English writers such as ShakespeareT. S. Eliot,Herman Melville, and Eugene O’Neill. In 1939, Le occasioni(The Occasions) appeared, his most innovative book, followed by La bufera e altro (The Storm and Other Things, 1956). It was this trio of books that won Montale the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975 and established him as a founder of the hermeneutic school of Italian poetry.
In 1948 he moved from Florence to Milan where he became chief literary critic for Italy’s primary newspaper, Corriere della Sera. In addition to writing poems, Montale was also a prolific essayist, writer of stories and travel sketches, distinguished music critic, translator, and amateur painter. After a long break from writing poetry, Montale published four collections during the last ten years of his life: Satura (Miscellany, 1971), Diario del ‘71 e del ‘72 (Diary of 1971 and 1972, 1973), Quaderno di quattro anni (Notebook of Four Years, 1977), and Altri versi e poesi disperse (Other and Uncollected Poems, 1981). Eugenio Montale died in Milan in 1981 at the age of 85.

To Rest In The Shade

(Meriggiare pallido e assorto)

To rest in the shade, pale and thoughtful,
by a sun-hot garden wall
listening among thorns and brushwood
to the cry of blackbirds, the hiss of snakes.

In cracks in the soil or amongst the vetch
to spy on the files of red ants
now scattering now intertwining
at the top of miniscule mountains.

To observe among the leaves the distant
quivering scales of the sea,
while the tremulous cries rise
from cicadas on the naked hills.

And walking in the dazzling sun
to feel with a saddened wonder
how all of life and its travails
is in this following a wall
topped by bright shards of glass.

Perhaps One Morning Walking

(Forse un mattino andando in un’aria di vetro)

Perhaps one morning walking in dry glassy air,
I will turn, I will see the miracle complete:
nothingness at my shoulder, the void behind
me, with a drunkard’s terror.

Then, as on a screen, trees houses hills
will advance swiftly in familiar illusion,
But it will be too late; and I will return, silently,
to men who do not look back, with my secret.

Another Effect Of The Moon

(La trama del carrubo che si profila)

The form of the carob tree that looms
naked against the somnolent blue,
the sound of voices, the process
of silver fingers over the doorsteps,
the feather that gets entangled, on the jetty
a trampling of feet that dies away,
and the felucca already falling back in flight
its abandoned sail in tatters. 

The Well

(Cigola la carrucola del pozzo)

The pulley of the well-shaft creaks,
water rises to the light and dissolves you.
A memory trembles in the refilled pail,
an image smiles in its pure circle.
Touch your face to evanescent lips:
the past wavers, grows old,
belongs to another…
Ah, how the wheel groans
already, returns you to the dark depths,
vision, a distance divides us.

You can browse more of his translated work here.

Our challenge is to write a new poem or prose poem in response to Eugenio Montale's words.   Some examples of responses include affirming what the speaker said or using his title or line of verse as a jumping board for your own writing.   The prompt is wide open so feel free to explore where your muse takes you.   I look forward to reading your work ~   Happy weekend to all ~ Grace


Grace said...

Hi everyone ~ I look forward to reading your poems ~

hedgewitch said...

Thanks for the introduction to this excellent writer, Grace. Beautiful poetry. Crazy day today, but if something bubbles up, I will be back.

Unknown said...

i have been off my blog for a whole month now... extremely busy month... took me some time to get back into flow... i hope its done some justice to the wonderful prompt! thank you Grace~

Grace said...

Good to see you Arushi ~ Susan and Vandana, thanks for posting yours ~ HW, we are preparing for our thanksgiving here in Canada so its been a crazy day for me ~ I look forward to your post ~

Sissie's Shabby Cottage said...

Thank you so much Helen for sharing this wonderful poetry and the history of the author. It's always a lovely visit here.


Anonymous said...

Grace --this is what came up--I don't know if it fits with Montale--he is great. Thanks. K.

Grace said...

Thanks for linking up K ~ Happy weekend ~

Myrna R. said...

Grace I gave this a try. It was fun.

Hannah said...

Thank you, Grace!!

Susan said...

I forgot to thank you, Grace, for the intro to this poet. I enjoyed the poems you include here.

Anonymous said...

Grace, I have not posted in weeks, I guess... distracted by some acrylics (Kim, are you listening, LOL). Saw this post on a marvelous poet of whom (as usual) I had never heard and had to try it. Thanks, Grace! Love to all in the pond, Amy

brudberg said...

Hello, I have spent the weekend on a spa, including a wonderful sea-food buffet.. tonight I'm back to this prompt.. Of course I got hooked on the scientific terms and added some string theory to the mix..

Anonymous said...

Hey Grace-- I wrote another more lyrical poem thinking of Montale but may wait till tomorrow to link as don't know if I should link two. K.

Scarlet said...

Hey Karin, feel free to link another poem, there is no restriction ~ And of course, you can always share during our OpenLink Monday ~

Bjorn, I am envious of the spa and sea food buffet ~ Well tomorrow is our thanksgiving so we are having a fat roasted chicken and pumpkin with pears soap ~

Helen said...

His poetry is incredibly lovely, thank you for sharing ... after attempting bluegrass yesterday, I seek redemption. Mr. Montale's poetry is the perfect inspiration. Smiles, Grace.

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is so interesting, Grace. I love to be given the opportunity to learn more about poets whose first language is not English. I am sorry I missed your post but I will definitely return to it a little later in the month.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting poet. Thanks for the share, Grace. Super late to the prompt, but thinking about it since you posted. ~