The Italian Almanac

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Salvatore Quasimodo

A New Fragment

A new fragment of verse by Nobel prize winning Italian lyrical poet Salvatore Quasimodo has emerged during a transfer of the civil engineering department's archives in Imperia, a Genoa university professor said. Professor Giovanni Felici said the poet's signature had been authenticated and the unpublished couplet had been cleared to join the Quasimodo canon after "exhaustive" comparison with his work in the early 1930s, when it was probably composed.

The poem is dedicated to the Sicilian town of Modica where Quasimodo was born in 1901. Quasimodo expert Domenico Pisana said "it is highly likely that this verse was written in 1931, when the poet was transferred from the civil engineering office in Reggio Calabria to the one in Genoa". He said the tone of the poem was "elegiac" and "nostalgic" and was probably an expression of "the displaced poet's longing for home". A type of street or castle flagstone "typical of Modica," called in Sicilian dialect 'basole', was referenced in the poem.

Here is the poem:

Sentieri velati da un tratto di eterno: basole fra scorci di storica passione;
a passi tardi rinvengo in cor mio nascituro squardo che soave m'attrista.

(Paths tinged with a trace of the eternal: flagstones between glimpses of historical passion;
with slow paces I summon into my burgeoning heart a gaze that sweetly saddens me.)

In his 1959 Nobel citation, the Swedish academy praised the Sicilian poet for "his lyrical work which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times". Quasimodo is often named along with Giuseppe Ungaretti and Eugenio Montale as Italy's three greatest 20th century poets. He was hailed for the so-called hermetic, or 'closed' language he used to sketch recurring motifs like his native Sicily, religion and death.

As well as the Nobel Prize, Quasimodo received prizes and honours from all over the world. A year before his death at the age of 67 in 1968, he earned an honorary degree from Oxford University