I have begun a collaboration with the Italian poetry magazine Atelier (http://www.atelierpoesia.it/) in which I will periodically provide comics versions of classic Italian poems for their website. Here is my adaptation of Salvatore Quasimodo’s 1930 poem “Ed è subito sera” (“And suddenly it’s evening”), one of the shortest, but also one of the most well-known poems in the Italian literary canon:
Quasimodo (1901-1968) is associated with a current of Italian poetry known as ermetismo(hermeticism). The ermetici –perhaps somewhat unusually for Italians– believed in the value of expressing themselves using only a few carefully selected words. Their typically very brief, synthetic compositions are meant to suggest multiple shades of meaning and emotion. Because the poems of the ermetici depend so much on the connotative value of words, they are particularly difficult to translate (let alone illustrate!). A more-or-less literal translation of “Ed è subito sera” could be as follows:
And Suddenly It’s Evening
Each of us is alone on the heart of the earth
Pierced/run through by a ray of sun:
And suddenly it’s evening.