Campana to Montale (2004)

Cover photograph: Michael Dean / Cover design: James Fryer

Kendrick Smithyman. Campana to Montale: Versions from Italian. Edited by Jack Ross. ISBN 0-476-00382-2. Auckland: The Writers Group, 2004. [ii} + 190 pp.


[For an updated list of poets' biographies, consult the 2010 edition]

  • Dino Campana

    Born in 1885, near Faenza; died of septicaemia at Castel Pulci in 1932. Before being committed in 1918 to the mental hospital where he died, Campana’s life was characterised by compulsive wandering, tormented love affairs, and extreme disdain for the literary establishment. Major work: Canti Orfici (1914).
    1. Old Florence
      Firenze vecchia
    2. from The Evening of the Fair
      La sera di fiera
    3. Campana in an Autumn Garden
      Giardino autunnale
    4. Woman of Genoa
      Donna genovese
    5. The Skylight

  • Sandro Penna

    Born in Perugia in 1906; died in Rome in 1977. A somewhat isolated figure in modern Italian poetry, Penna is generally described as the one working-class poet among the intellectuals of the Hermetic school. Major works: Tutte le poesie (1970); Stranezze (1976).
    1. untitled
      ‘Esco dal mio lavoro …’
    2. untitled
      ‘Il treno tarderà …’
    3. The Journey
      Il viaggio
    4. untitled
      ‘Tutto il giorno passai …’
    5. untitled
      ‘Con il cielo coperto …’
    6. Morning
    7. untitled
      ‘L’ombra di una nuvola …’
    8. untitled
      ‘Alfio che un treno Porta …’
    9. untitled
      ‘Voglio credere ancora …’
    10. untitled
      ‘Lungo è il tragitto ...’
    11. untitled
      ‘Viaggiava per la terra …’
    12. In a Small Venetian Square
      La veneta piazzetta
    13. untitled
      ‘Lasciami andare ...’
    14. untitled
      ‘Sulla riva del fiume …’
    15. untitled
      ‘Sole con luna …’
    16. untitled
      ‘Se desolato io cammino ...’
    17. untitled
      ‘Nel chiuso lago …’
    18. Woman in a Tram
      Donna in tram
    19. untitled
      ‘Sul campo aperto …’
    20. untitled
      ‘Imbruna l’aria …’
    21. News of Spring
      Cronache di primavera
    22. untitled
      ‘Forse sull’erba verde …’

  • Nelo Risi

    Born in Milan in 1920. A qualified doctor, but writer by vocation, he spent most of World War II in Russia, and was subsequently interned in Switzerland. His work concerns itself mainly with “the dilemma of the individual in an age of mass-consciousness.” Major works: L’esperienza (1948); Il mondo in una mano (1994).
    1. Mister Risi: The Poet
      Il poeta
    2. Risi’s Tautology
    3. Risi Says Muses Played Out
      Le muse sono stanche

  • Giuseppe Ungaretti

    Born in Egypt, at Alexandria, in 1888; died in Milan in 1970. He served as an infantryman in World War I, an experience which confirmed him in his vocation as a poet. With Montale and Quasimodo, one of the “big three” of twentieth-century Italian poetry. Major work: Vita d’un uomo (1969).
    1. Quiet / Quietus
    2. Evening
    3. Nostalgia
    4. The Vigil of Ungaretti
    5. Agony
    6. Ungaretti’s Drowned Port
      Il Porto sepolto

  • Leonardo Sinisgalli

    Born in Montemurro in 1908; died in Rome in 1981. His background in physics and graphic design led him to formulate a poetry of detached understatement, in opposition to the frenzied aesthetics of his contemporaries. Major works: Cuore (1927); 18 Poesie (1935).
    1. Children Tossing Red Coins
      I fanciulli battono le monete rosse
    2. How Sr Sinisgalli Eyeballed the Muses
      Vidi le Muse

  • Alfonso Gatto

    Born in Salerno in 1909; died in a road accident near Orbetello in 1976. He was imprisoned in Milan in 1934 for opposition to the Fascist regime, and was active in the Resistance during World War II, experiences which informed much of his later poetry. Major works: Poesie (1941); La madre e la morte (1960).
    1. For the Martyrs of Loreto Square
      Per i martiri di Piazzale Loreto

  • Vittorio Sereni

    Born in Luino, Lago Maggiore, in 1913; died in Milan in 1983. Fought as an infantry officer in Greece and Sicily, where he was taken prisoner. His initial adherence to Hermeticism was succeeded by a more realistic approach to war and post-war austerity. Major works: Diario d’Algeria (1947); Stella variabile (1981).
    1. Vittorio Sereni’s First Night out from Athens
      Prima sera d’Atene
    2. Airborne
      Non sa piú nulla
    3. At Six in the Morning
      Le sei del mattino
    4. Vittorio Sereni and His Great Friend
      Il grande amico

  • Camillo Sbarbaro

    Born in Santa Margherita, Liguria, in 1888; died at Spoleto in 1967. Generally seen as an adherent of the turn-of-the-century Crepuscular school, Sbarbaro’s melancholic self-absorption in fact has more in common with later poets of disillusionment such as Montale or Eliot. Major works: Pianissimo (1914); Rimanenze (1956).
    1. Now You Have Come
      Ora che sei venuta
    2. La bambina che va sotto gli alberi
      La bambina che va sotto gli alberi

  • Luciano Erba

    Born in Milan in 1922. Scholar, translator and critic, Erba’s elaborately ironic undercutting of traditional poetic language and attitudes have helped him to build up a biting commentary on post-war Italian values. Major works: Il prato più verde (1970); Il nastro di Moebius (1980).
    1. Luciano Erba in Lombardo-Veneto
    2. Luciano Erba Entertaining Them
      Lo svagato

  • Mario Luzi

    Born in Castello, near Florence, in 1914. An early exponent of the hermetic movement, whose motto “letteratura come vita” [literature as life] dominated Italian literature in the 1930’s, his later work is less liable to assume the capacity of poetry to palliate suffering. Major works: La barca (1935); Tutte le poesie (1979).
    1. Mario Luzi: But Where
      Ma dove
    2. Mario Luzi on Judging
      Il giudice
    3. From (Mario Luzi) One to Another
      L’uno e l’altro

  • Giorgio Orelli

    Born in Airolo in 1921. He studied Italian literature with Gianfranco Contini at Fribourg, then went to teach in Bellinzona, where he has been living since 1945. He is onsidered by many the greatest poet of Italian Switzerland. Major works: Poesie (1953); Sinopie (1977).
    1. The Trout
      La trota

  • Elio Pagliarani

    Born in Viserba, near Rimini, in 1927. Teacher, editor, journalist, Pagliarini’s poetry attempts to replace the conventions of the Romantic lyric with a neo-realist but linguistically complex presentation of the lives of ordinary people. Major works: La ragazza Carla e altre poesie (1962); Lezione di fisica e fecaloro (1968).
    1. from The Girl Carla
      La ragazza Carla

  • Lucio Piccolo

    Born 1903 in Palermo. Died in 1969 at his Sicilian property at Capo d’Orlando. Like his more famous cousin Tomasi di Lampedusa, lived out of the mainstream of Italian cultural life. Major works: Canti barocchi (1956); Plumella (1967).
    1. Lucio Piccolo’s Days
      I giorni

  • Eugenio Montale

    Born in Genoa in 1896; died in Milan in 1981. His poetry, perhaps the most influential in twentieth-century Italian literature, constantly circles back to his childhood on the coast of Liguria. Largely self-educated, he lost his job as an editor in 1938 as a result of anti-fascist opinions, and supported himself afterwards with occasional journalism and translation. Major works: Ossi di seppia (1925); Le occasioni (1939); La bufera ed altro (1956); Satura (1971).
    1. Promenade by the Sea
    2. untitled
      ‘Portami il girasole ...’
    3. Intermezzo
    4. The Customs Officers’ House
      La casa dei doganieri
    5. The Eel
    6. untitled
      ‘Un tempo …’
    7. Honour
    8. When I Began to Paint
      ‘Quando cominciai a dipingere …’
    9. After the Rain
    10. Heroism
    11. Reading Cavafy
      Leggendo Cavafis
    12. Disguises
      I travestimenti
    13. A Poet
      Un poeta
    14. On The Lake Of Orta
      Sul lago d’Orta
    15. In the Negative
      In negativo
    16. Culture
      La cultura
    17. In a Northern City
      In una città del nord
    18. The Inhuman
      Nel disumano
    19. A Dream, One of Many
      Un sogno, uno dei tanti
    20. That Woman from the Lighthouse
      Quella del faro
    21. From the Other Side
      Dall’altra sponda
    22. On the Beach
      Sulla spiaggia
    23. untitled
      ‘Si aprono venature pericolose ...’
    24. Aspasia
    25. A Letter Not Sent
      Una lettera che non fu spedita
    26. untitled
      ‘Oltre il breve recinto …’

  • Salvatore Quasimodo

    Born in Modica in 1901; died in Milan in 1968. His Nobel prize for literature in 1959 was awarded mainly for the wartime poems collected in Giorno dopo giorno [Day after day] (1943-46), an advance on the austere Hermeticism of much of his early work. The life of the Sicilian countryside and the classical Mediterranean past are two interests which constantly resurface in his poetry. Major works: Ed è subito sera (1943); Tutte le poesie (1960).

      from Acque e terre (1920-1929)

    1. Your Dress is White
      E la tua vesta è bianca
    2. Deadwater
    3. Winter in the Old Days
      Antico inverno
    4. Sorrow of Things I Don’t Know
      Dolore di cose che ignoro
    5. The Dead
      I morti
    6. Alley
    7. Refuge of the Birds of Night
      Rifugio d’uccelli notturni

    8. from Òboe sommerso (1930-1932)

    9. Sunken Oboe
      Òboe sommerso
    10. To My Land
      Alla mia terra
    11. Word
    12. Of a Young Woman Lying Back among Flowers
      Di fresca donna riversa in mezzo ai fiori
    13. Lamentation of a Friar in an Icon
      Lamentazione d’un fraticello d’icona
    14. Without Memory Of Death
      Senza memoria di morte
    15. Prayer to the Rain
      Preghiera alla pioggia
    16. Woods Sleep
      Dormono selve
    17. To Night
      Alla notte
    18. Metamorphoses in the Saint’s Urn
      Metamorfosi nell’urna del santo
    19. Island
    20. Where the Dead Stand Open-Eyed
      Dove morti stanno ad occhi aperti
    21. The Angel
    22. Water Decomposes Dormice
      L’acqua infradicia ghiri
    23. Seed
    24. First Day
      Primo giorno
    25. Green Drift
      Verde deriva

    26. from Erato e Apòllion (1932-1936)

    27. Apollyon’s Song
      Canto di Apòllion
    28. Apollyon
    29. Dead Heron
      Airone morto
    30. On the Hill of the “Terre Bianche”
      Sui colle delle “Terre Bianche”
    31. In Your Light I am Wrecked
      Al tuo lume naufrago
    32. Insomnia
    33. Often a Shoreline
      Sovente una riviera
    34. Ulysses’ Isle
      Isola di Ulisse
    35. Salt-Pan in Winter
      Salina d’inverno
    36. Sardinia
    37. In Light of the Skies
      In luce di cieli
    38. Quarries
    39. For My Mortal Smell
      Del mio odore di uomo
    40. Stranger City
      Città straniera
    41. In the Feeling of Death
      Nel senso di morte

    42. Nuove Poesie (1936-1942)

    43. The Magpie Laughs, Black in the Orange Trees
      Ride la gazza, nera sugli aranci
    44. A Street in Agrigentum
      Strada di Agrigentum
    45. The Gentle Hill
      La dolce colline
    46. What are You up to, Shepherd of Air?
      Che vuoi, pastore d’aria?
    47. Before the Statue of Ilaria del Carretto
      Davanti al simulacro d’llaria del Carretto
    48. Now Day Breaks
      Ora che sale il giorno
    49. The Rain is Already with Us
      Già la pioggia è con noi
    50. One Evening, the Snow
      Una sera, la neve
    51. The Piazza Fontana
      Piazza Fontana
    52. The Tall Ship
      L’alto veliero
    53. Elegy for the Dancer Cumani
      Elegos per la danzatrice Cumani
    54. Delphic Woman
    55. Imitation of Joy
      Imitazione della gioia
    56. Moon Horses and Volcanoes
      Cavalli di luna e di vulcani
    57. Once More a Green River
      Ancora un verde fiume
    58. Beach at St Antiochus
      Spiaggia a Sant’Antioco
    59. The Scrawny Flower is Already Flying
      Già vola il fiore maoro
    60. Verging on Puberty
      Inizio di pubertà

    61. Giorno dopo giorno (1947)

    62. Speaking about Willow Branches
      Alle fronde dei salici
    63. Letter
    64. 19 January 1944
      19 gennaio 1944
    65. Snow
    66. Day after Day
      Giorno dopo giorno
    67. Perhaps the Heart
      Forse il cuore
    68. Winter Night
      La notte d’inverno
    69. Milan, August 1943
      Milano, agosto 1943
    70. The Wall
      La muraglia
    71. O My Sweet Animals
      O miei dolci animali
    72. Written Perhaps on a Tomb
      Scritto forse su una tomba
    73. Pilgrim
      A me pellegrino
    74. From the Rock Fortress of Upper Bergamo
      Dalla rocca di Bergamo alta
    75. Beside the Adda
      Presso l’Adda
    76. I Have Heard the Sea Again
      S’ode ancora il mare
    77. Elegy
    78. Of Another Lazarus
      Di un altro Lazzaro
    79. The Crossing
      Il traghetto
    80. Your Silent Foot
      Il tuo piede silenzioso
    81. Man of My Time
      Uomo del mio tempo

    82. from La vita non è sogno (1946-1948)

    83. Lament for the South
      Lamento per il Sud
    84. Epitaph for Bice Donetti
      Epitaffio per Bice Donetti
    85. Colour of Rain and Iron
      Colore di pioggia e di ferro
    86. Almost a Madrigal
      Quasi un madrigale
    87. Italy is My Country
      Il mio paese è l’Italia
    88. Thànatos Athànatos
      Thànatos Athànatos

    89. from Il falso e vero verde (1949-1955)

    90. The Dead Guitars
      Le morte chitarre
    91. False and True Green
      Il falso e vero verde
    92. In a Distant City
      In una città lontana
    93. How Long a Night
      Che lunga notte
    94. Beyond the Waves of the Hills
      Al di là delle onde delle colline
    95. Near a Saracen Tower, for His Dead Brother
      Vicina a una torre saracena, per il fratello morto
    96. Laude, 29 April 1945
      Laude, 29 Aprile 1945
    97. To a Poet Not Well Disposed
      A un poeta nemico

    98. from La terra impareggiabile (1955-1958)

    99. Visible, Invisible
      Visibile, invisibile
    100. The Incomparable Earth
      La terra impareggiabile
    101. Today, the Twenty-First of March
      Oggi ventuno marzo
    102. From Disfigured Nature
      Dalla natura deforme
    103. An Open Arc
      Un arco aperto
    104. A Copper Amphora
      Un’anfora di rame
    105. The Scaliger Tombs
      Le arche scaligere
    106. In This City
      In questa città
    107. Once More about Hell
      Ancora dell’inferno
    108. Almost an Epigram
      Quasi un epigramma
    109. Soldiers Crying in the Night
      I soldati piangono di notte
    110. At Night on the Acropolis
      Di notte sull’Acropoli
    111. Mycenae
    112. Following the Alpheus
      Seguendo l’Alfeo
    113. Delphi
    114. Marathon
    115. Minotaur at Knossos
      Minotauro a Cnosso
    116. Eleusis
    117. To the New Moon
      Alla nuova luna
    118. An Answer
      Una risposta
    119. Another Answer
      Altra risposta
    120. Inscription for the Partisans of Valenza 1957
      Epigrafe per i Partigiani di Valenza

    121. from Dare e avere (1966)

    122. Debit and Credit
      Dare e avere
    123. Varvàra Alexandrovna
      Varvàra Alexandrovna
    124. Only If Love Stabs You
      Solo che amore ti colpisca
    125. A Night in September
      Una notte di settembre
    126. Along the Isar
      Lungo l’Isar
    127. From the Shores of Lake Balaton
      Dalle rive del Balaton
    128. Tollbridge
    129. The Negro Church at Harlem
      La chiesa dei negri ad Harlem
    130. Cape Caliakra
      Capo Caliakra
    131. Silence Does Not Mislead Me
      Il silenzio non m’inganna
    132. Glendalough
    133. The Bowmen Of Tuscany
      Balestrieri toscani
    134. In Chiswick Cemetery
      Nel cimitero di Chiswick
    135. The Maya at Mérida
      I Maya a Mérida
    136. Love Poem
      Poesia d’amore
    137. I Have Lost Nothing
      Non ho perduto nulla
    138. To Liguria
      Alla Liguria
    139. To Keep The World In Balance
      Basta un giorno a equilibrare il mondo
    140. I Have Flowers and by Night I Call on the Poplars
      Ho fiori e di notte invito i pioppi


The Writers Group
6A Hastings Rd
Mairangi Bay
North Shore City 0630

Reviews & Comments:

  1. C. K. Stead. "I know what I’ll be reading this summer." Sunday Star-Times (5/12/04): C8.

    For poetry I have the new Ken Smithyman, Campana to Montale, Versions from the Italian, just published in a very nice edition by The Writer’s Group (6A Hastings Road, Mairangi Bay, Auckland 1311).

  2. Raewyn Alexander. New Zealand Poetry Society Newsletter (February 2005) 4-5.

    How lovely to decide to understand another country’s poetry whether you know their language or not. Just as a person may step off a plane or boat abroad into unknown territory, Smithyman explored parallel realities on a page. Perhaps through each line, as one of Salvatore Quasimodo’s poems states so eloquently ‘...we seek a sign that will curve over life...’

  3. Bernard Gadd. Spin 49 (2005) 77-78.

    I’m hoping that this collection will revive kiwi poets’ interest in how fascinating, how sensuous, how deeply felt, how thoughtful poetry can be and how it can so satisfyingly combine the intensely personal with the world of people, creatures, forces beyond the individual.

  4. Paula Green. brief 32 (2005) 108-12.

    Smithyman moves across (trans) the Great Divide from the sides (lati) of Italian (well, English versions) to the sides of English, inserting his own signature and his personal ornaments, yet somehow his performance is animated by a strong allegiance to the original, not at all pious but certainly loyal. Smithyman’s versions represent a tender conversation with the Italian poems; like the iconic sunflower, Smithyman’s conversation is flawed yet, more significantly, is vital and transporting.

  5. Joe Wyllie. Takahe 55 (2005): 60.
    With his formidable literary and language skills Jack Ross appears to have done a superb job of bringing this, supposedly the last of Smithyman’s posthumous works, to publication. For anyone with an interest in language, Campana to Montale is a goldmine, as much, perhaps, for Ross’s contribution as for Smithyman’s.


Melissa said...

Where can one find a copy of this book?

Melissa said...

Do you know where one might find a copy of this book?

Jack Ross said...

I've still got one or two copies myself, but after that the edition will be exhausted, I'm afraid. It's possible that you might find one in a university bookshop somewhere.

If you write to me at
we could discuss it further.
$NZ35 each, as I recall.