Giuseppe Ungaretti: thought and works. Theme |


Giuseppe Ungaretti in Venice –
Source: getty-images

In Italy, between the twenties and thirties, that is, in the period between the two world wars, the highest poetic expression of the twentieth century was established: theHermeticism.

The characteristics of Hermeticism are:

  • A hermetic, obscure and difficult to understand language
  • Impossibility of freely expressing one’s opinions, one’s thoughts under the fascist dictatorship.
  • Moods such as loneliness, pain and existential precariousness.
  • Short texts
  • Use of analogy

The most representative hermetic poets are: Salvatore Quasimodo, Mario Luzi and Alfonso Gatto.

Eugenio Montale and Giuseppe Ungaretti instead they are considered precursors of hermeticism.


Ungaretti uses a synthetic and essential language and in his poems he expresses feelings such as loneliness, pain and existential suffering.

The poet was born in 1888 AD Alexandria of Egypt; his family was originally from Tuscany, but had settled in Egypt.

He lived here until the age of twenty-four then moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne University.

In the French capital he came into contact with the most important writers and artists of those years such as Baudelaire And Mallarmé.

He returned to Italy in 1914, joined the interventionist movement and was sent to the front on the Karst as a private.

As a soldier, the war seemed much harsher than he had imagined, characterized by cold, hunger and fatigue.

From the tragic event of the war the awareness that all men are brothers as they share the same fate of pain.

After the war he devoted himself to journalism.

In 1928, following a stay in the Subiaco monasteryapproached the Catholic religion.

In 1934 he accepted the Chair of Italian Literature at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The stay in Brazil, interrupted in 1942, was marked by a grave mourning for the poet: the death of his son Antonietto only nine years old.

In 1947 he was assigned the chair of modern and contemporary literature at the University of Rome. He died in 1970 in Milan.


Ungaretti conceives the poetry as an instrument of knowledge of reality. He is convinced that the knowledge of the inner reality of consciousness is the knowledge of the outer reality of the universe and that it can be reached by analogy: this allows us to discover the relationships between beingsand of feel in harmony with the universeto the perception of the absolute and to faith in God.


Among the most important collections of Ungaretti I remember:

  • The buried port
  • Joy of shipwrecks
  • Feeling of time
  • Pain
  • Promised Land
  • A cry and landscapes
  • The old man’s notebook
  • Death of the Seasons and Dialogue

Morning is one of the most famous poetic compositions by Ungaretti, is part of the collection Joy of shipwrecks and is composed of only two lines: I enlighten myself with immense.

It was written on January 26, 1917 in Santa Maria la Longa and its original title was Cielo e Mare.

The very short lyric, written by the soldier poet on the Karst front during the First World War, expresses the feeling of respite from suffering. In the poem there is thealliteration of the consonant “M”.

The poem is very profound and arouses infinite emotions in those who read it. The poet, illuminated by dawn, opens his eyes to reality, but continues to hope, perhaps in something that will not have, but does not give up. Infinity makes him dream that one day there will be no more war.

Listen on Spreaker.

Another poem by Ungaretti is Soldiers in which the poet wants to convey an important message: the precariousness of life.

He compares the fragility of an autumn leaf to that of a man in the trenches: the possibility of dying in war is as much as the possibility of falling a leaf from the tree in autumn: it could happen at any moment.

The tree represents life and the leaves the soldiers and both transience of human life.

The lyric, written during a break from the fighting in the Courton Woods in July 1918, expresses the suspension between life and death, in which soldiers are found, like leaves on trees in autumn.

I wanted to talk about this author because I too often stop to think about the sufferings that a war causes and how, in a moment, everything that is beautiful and pleasant in life can end in a flash.

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Giuseppe Ungaretti: thought and works. Theme |