Sunday, May 22, 2011

In memorian: a poem by Guiseppi Ungaretti

In Memoriam
by Guiseppe Ungaretti*

He was called
Mohammed Sheab
Descendant of nomad emirs
a suicide
because he no longer had
a country

He loved France
and changed his name

Became Marcel
but was not French
and had fogotten how
to live
in his own people's tent
where they listened to the sing-song
of the Koran
as they sip coffee

He did  not know
how to release
the song
of his unconstraint

I followed his coffin
I and the managress of the hotel
where we lived
in Paris
number 5 rue des Carmes
steep decrepit alleyway

he rests
in the cemetry at Ivry
a suburb that always
like the day
they dismantle a fairground

And perhaps only I 
still know
he lived
translated from the Italian by Patrick Creagh.

* Guiseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970) was an Italian poet, journalist, essayist and academic. Ungaretti started writing poetry whilst fighting in the trenches during WW1.

published in Kaminsky I & Harris S (2010) The ECCO Anthology of International Poetry.

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