Three WWI poems by Giuseppe Ungaretti

Here are my adaptations of three poems by Italy foremost poet of the First Word War, Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970). They are Veglia” (Vigil), “Fratelli” (Brothers), and “Sono una creatura”(I am a creature), both in the original Italian and in English translations by Marco Sonzogni and Ross Woods. These comics are the product of an ongoing collaboration with Sonzogni and Woods, and with the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation at  Victoria University of Wellington. (click on images to enlarge)
(Adattazioni a fumetti di tre poesie della prima guerra mondiale scritte da Giuseppe Ungaretti)
ungaretti italiano
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ungaretti 001fratelli 001iamacreature

8 Responses to Three WWI poems by Giuseppe Ungaretti

  1. Pingback: WORLD WAR ONE – websites to visit – Channel Frog

  2. An aSTONished visitor says:

    Just discovered ‘I am a creature’, whose lines sound universal and timeless. The gradual zoom in the drawings, along with our reading process, strengthens the dramatic effect !

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  3. Pingback: Ungaretti’s Dead Comrade Identified? – An Article by Mario Colombo | julian peters comics

  4. Adina Ruiu says:

    I can think of a number of situations in which pre-printed postcards might look less like an expression of censorship and more like a service to communication in difficult circumstances (injuries resulting in the incapacity to write; borderline illiteracy). But the extreme limits they impose on expression (and the expression of feelings) contribute to overcharging the significance of handwriting: by letting the typewriting carry the basic information all postcards convey, the few letters scribbled on the bottom of the page become the truest vehicle of the soul and signature becomes a true incarnation of the being.

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    • True, although it is terribly galling the way one’s signature acts as a personal endorsement of the coercively optimistic framework that the pre-printed postcard sets forth. It seems to me the only way of crying out one’s true desperation would be to cross out all of the lines provided. I know too that some soldiers, including Wilfred Owen, had devised a code with their loved ones based on the manner in which they crossed out certain lines.

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  5. Adina Ruiu says:

    Beautiful and moving work, Julian! I am reading many postcards sent by French soldiers to their loved ones during “la Grande Guerre”, and this looks like a very poignant depiction of the circumstances in which they were writing… May I (in all humbleness) invite you to have a look at this related post? https://oddsandlens.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/postcard-palimpsest/

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    • Thanks Adina! The imagery does fit in well with the touching narrative you’ve so painstakingly reconstructed. It must be quite moving to read through that kind of WW1 correspondence, reading the emotion in the lines, between the lines, and in the very contours of the lines, as in your palimpsest. I recently saw some British WW1 pre-printed postcards in which soldiers were only allowed to sign their names and mark off whether they were “quite well” or specify their injuries. It made me wonder what calligraphic or other devices soldiers must have used to convey the true intensity of their feelings: https://thinkbreathesleepknit.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/postcards.jpg

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