“Fratelli” by Giuseppe Ungaretti

Here is my adaptation of another WWI poem by Giuseppe Ungaretti. Once again, the English translation is by Marco Sonzogni and Ross Woods. The comic is the product of an ongoing collaboration with Sonzogni and Woods, and with the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation at  Victoria University in Wellington. (click on image to enlarge)
fratelli 001

Here are the original Italian words:


Di che reggimento siete

Parola tremante
nella notte

Nell’aria spasimante
involontaria rivolta
dell’uomo presente alla sua


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10 Responses to “Fratelli” by Giuseppe Ungaretti

  1. G.F.Molinero says:

    In the fragility of the death we are all of us “brothers” We are equal: the newbornleaf, the old… A great poem of Ungaretti… and a great comic, Julian

    (And parola is not a password it means word, literally 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. G.F.Molinero says:

    Perhaps Fratelli must be translated : Brothers “What regiment d’you belong to brothers?”


    • An accurate translation, but I agree with Sonzogni and Woods’s decision not to translate “fratelli.” English-speakers seem less likely to use that word in real life military context, I think, and the opening line is really supposed to echo an actual utterance by a soldier.


  3. mtompkins says:

    Regarding the translation of “parola” – given that the first line appears to be a sentry’s challenge, it seems to me that the poet might have meant “password” rather than “word”. But I might be reading too much context into it.

    I’m loving the poems, by the way!


  4. mtompkins says:

    Just curious about the translation of “parola” – it does mean “word”, but I’m pretty sure it also means “password”, and that seems more appropriate in this context (a sentry challenges with “What regiment are you from?”; life or death could depend on giving the correct answer).

    Loving the poems, by the way.


    • Like all Ungaretti poems, this one is open to multiple interpretations. I think the triple iteration of the word “fratelli” suggests that is the word being referenced, but it could also be the reply to the soldier’s question.


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