“The Watch” is my translation of Giuseppe Ungaretti’s “La Veglia”. One of the many poems that the Italian poet has created during his experience in the First World War trenches. It is a poem written in free verse and without punctuation. The style of this poem is that of the Hermeticism that aims at the creation of a poem full of sensations. Above all, in this poem, the sense of loneliness and at the same time, the attachment to life. The writer, alone among dead people feels particularly attached to life, that is why he writes letters of love.

In this translation, I took a particular care for the word “buttato”, which in Italian gives the idea of someone left alone on purpose, a meaning that I have found in the English word “cast” and not “thrown”. According to me, “cast” more than “thrown” has the power to picture someone left alone, as on a desert island. The situation of the poet alone in a trench is, in fact, close to that of a man left on a desert island, surrounded by dangers and in a continuous struggle for life.

The watch

A whole night
cast
close to
a ruined friend
his mouth
wide open
smiling
to the full moon
frozen hands
piercing my silence
I wrote
letters of love
I’ve never been so
close to life.


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