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Title: Italian Translations of "Poets to Come"

Author(s): Marina Camboni

Publication information: Written for the Walt Whitman Archive. First published on the Archive in 2012.

Whitman Archive ID: anc.02027

Italian Translations of "Poets to Come"

Yes, Whitman's is a futurism
In which I have faith.
—Antonio Bruers, 19161

"Poets to Come" was the title Walt Whitman gave to a revised, and much shorter, version of the fourteenth poem in the "Chants Democratic" cluster of the 1860 "body" of Leaves of Grass. When it became part of the opening "Inscriptions" cluster of the 1881–82 (and 1891–92) Leaves, the poem attained a preeminent position in Whitman's book. It was in this final version that the poem was first received and translated into Italian.

Among the five existing translations of "Poets to Come," those by Luigi Gamberale, Enzo Giachino, and Ariodante Marianni are part of a representative selection from, or a complete translation of, Whitman's 1881 or 1892 Leaves of Grass, while those by Giuseppe Conte and Antonio Troiano are included in smaller, more overtly personal, selections from the Deathbed edition. The two volumes of Canti scelti di Walt Whitman (1887, 1889) and Foglie di erba: con le due aggiunte e gli Echi della vecchiaia dell'edizione del 1900 (1907) translated by Gamberale, Foglie d'erba (1950) edited and translated by Giachino, and the representative selection translated by Marianni and published in 1988 mark turning points in the reception and domestication of Whitman's work in Italy over the past one hundred and twenty years. Responding to different cultural and ideological needs, they played important and well-differentiated roles in the history of Italian culture, and of transatlantic literary exchanges.

The translations examined here highlight the complexity and the ambiguity of a poem that initially and deceptively seems simple and clear in its brevity. Each translated text, in fact, while offering a distinct critical interpretation, privileges one or more features of the original. Each translated text, moreover, carries, like an echo of an echo, a second voice, through which the discourses of the translator and his times can also be heard.2

Luigi Gamberale's Three Versions of "Poeti dell'avvenire"

In the introduction to his influential two-volume edition of selected poems, Canti scelti,3 Gamberale calls on Walt Whitman to renew and reinvigorate the image and the function of the universal poet. His own selection also firmly roots Whitman's American poetry in the European and Western classical traditions.4

There are three existing versions of Gamberale's "Poeti dell'avvenire." The first was included in the second volume of Canti scelti, a cheap edition meant to address a popular reader and, at the time, the largest selection of Whitman's work available in Italian. Seventeen years later, in 1907, he produced a somewhat different text for his Foglie d'erba con le due aggiunte e gli "Echi della vecchiaia" dell'edizione 1900. This was the first complete translation of Leaves in continental Europe. Gamberale's third translation appeared in the revised second edition of Foglie d'erba, in two volumes, published in 1923.5

Gamberale offered the Italian public a simplified but not censored modern poet. He directed his readers' attention not only to Whitman's democratic ideals and positivistic devotion to science, but to the relevance love and sexuality had in his texts and philosophy. It should also be said that he read Whitman's individual and universal love through the lens of literary naturalism, purified by his adoption of Dante as a spiritualizing filter. In his view, the American poet offered new and superior models of love and showed "how to love oneself and at the same time love the universe with the most perfect love."6 Most of all, however, Gamberale had formed the idea that, even though he was a great poet, Whitman was not a great artist, meaning that he had not artistically crafted his poems. Like most critics in his time, Gamberale believed that Whitman's lines were "prose, and nothing else."7 He thus translated "Poets to Come" as if it were a prose poem and applied to Whitman's English language text the same method of literal translation typical of translations from Latin and Greek, though he also brought to bear on his own choices his deep knowledge of the classics' symbolic, figurative, and mythic use of language.

In Gamberale's translation, "Poeti dell'avvenire," Whitman's apostrophe to future poets becomes more emphatic and pressing. By adding an anticipatory Ma levatevi voi in the third line, he lexically doubles Whitman's single imperative, "Arouse!," which he translates as Sorgete voi. Indeed, by using two imperative verbs rather than a single one, he expresses the urgency hidden in the speaking poet's summons to action, for these two almost, but not completely, synonymous verbs render the io-voi ("I"-"you") relationship more dynamic and equal by ascribing a partially different role to subject and addressee. While Levatevi ("get up") accentuates the speaker's role, with his summons made to sound more like an order than an invitation, sorgete, with its accompanying voi, gives the agency to the poets of the future. Gamberale's doubling of Whitman's single verb, "arouse," is one of two devices he uses to obtain the effect of dual agency. With his explicit spelling out of first-person subject and second-person object pronouns, he is able to match the agency of the poet in the present with that of his addressees, anticipating their role as actors in the world of the future. Thus io ("I"), balancing the voi ("you"), which is often unavoidable in Italian with imperative verbs, unearths a dialogic pattern, and makes the supersession of every new generation in the temporal dislocation of poetic discourse more visible than in the original text.

Normally, in Italian, the subject pronoun io would be absorbed in the first person verb form, while its object position can also be attached to the verb, as a weaker and non-accentuated form. But Gamberale translates all of Whitman's "I"s as io and uses the more emphatic and accentuated me in the object position. This would make Gamberale's a scholastic, literal translation if he had not managed to give linguistic pre-eminence to the speaking subject (io), to balance the thematic subject (voi) of the poem. It could be said, with some accuracy, that Gamberale's use of io must be considered a stylistic, literary, and cultural choice. Proof of this is his translation of "I myself" as Io, proprio io, a choice that sends a double message to Italian readers. On the one hand, it strengthens the speaking voice, as well as Gamberale's introductory conflation of the historic author and his poetic persona, while on the other hand it highlights the centrality of the individual in Whitman's message.

Gamberale rightly considered Whitman's individualistic credo representative of American democracy, and he thought it was important to introduce it into Italian culture, both to help Italy enter modernity and to democratize the newborn nation where ages of Catholic hegemony had suppressed individual autonomy. Together with his individualism, Whitman's philosophy of direct experience as the source of poetry would also help Italian literature free itself from the formal trappings of a too tight-fitting classical heritage and the debauchery of decadence. In Gamberale's opinion, attachment to tradition and to inherited forms created a chasm that distanced contemporary Italian poetry from present-day reality as well as from the poet's personal experience.

Many of Gamberale's other lexical and grammatical choices can be read within this effort to break free of tradition, beginning with the translation of "to come" as dell'avvenire, an expression that in those times could be made to convey a positivist progressive humanism and the socialist teleological projection toward a more perfect society. The verb progredisco (io non progredisco che un attimo) can also be included in this progressivist paradigm. Progredisco seems to be a literal and incorrect translation of "I progress," which in Italian should be rendered as avanzo or procedo. And yet, Gamberale's choice highlights the positivist connection of process and progress in the forward movement of historical time. Rather than dressing Whitman's poem in the Italian language, in this case he attributes to the Italian verb the double meaning it has in English.

His representation of movement as progress is further reinforced by the progressive forms of the gerund in lasciando and aspettando and his creation of a second grammatical paradigm, in which two more gerunds (where the other translators have infinitive verbs) are to be included, roteando ("to wheel"), and girolando [emphasis added], this last being a rare regional verb. Girolando ("sauntering") contains the Italian word giro, which belongs to the same metaphorical paradigm as "wheel" and seems again like an idiosyncratic choice, rather than a mistake. With his choice of verbs, Gamberale seems to give pre-eminence to Whitman's circular symbolism. But, while roteando exactly renders this key metaphor of the poem, the verb rovinare, which translates "hurry back," betrays his interpretation of tragedy in Whitman's words. By representing the poet's hurried return into darkness as a sudden crashing down, as if from the top of a mountain, he draws out the presence of death in the poem.

On the whole, Gamberale's version of "Poets to Come" testifies to his ability to detect the subtleties of Whitman's metaphors and to capture them in translation. This skill is further seen in his translation of "brood" as nidiata. Together with originale, his word for "native," nidiata highlights in the Italian text the image of a bird's nest with hatched eggs and the universal function of the egg as a symbol of original creation.

Gamberale's second version of the poem is both less emphatic and more prosaically explanatory. Perché voi dovete giustificarmi, instead of the simple Voi dovete of the first version, and a flat and awkward per roteare innanzi a voi in the last part of the sixth line are clear examples of the stylistic shift in the second version. Voi is assigned a less active role. Sorgete is in fact deleted and the single Levatevi is deprived of the accompanying voi, which doubled the enclitic vi in the first version. The "new brood," now a pluralized nidiate, is no longer continentale, deleted in this version. While most of the figurative verbs are kept, especially roteare and rovinare, as well as a more normalized but still unusual girandolando in place of girolando, progredisco is substituted with a more correct fo innanzi ("I advance"), from which the progressivist connotation has disappeared.

The most striking difference between the two versions, however, is the reduced presence of the personal pronouns io and voi on the textual scene, and most of all of the io: it is as if, with a more Italianized translation, Gamberale had also deleted part of his own interpretive contribution to the text. The first-person pronoun is no longer repeated at the beginning of the lines and, when in the object position, is enclitically attached to the verb. Thus, "giustificare me," with the tonic accent on me has become the unaccentuated giustificarmi and voi is also made less visible, as in Levatevi, which takes the place of "Levatevi voi."

Some of the changes made in the third version (1923) are also relevant. Rendered more oratorical by the addition of the vocative "O" preceding Poeti dell'avvenire and oratori, and though slightly more correct in Italian, this version is even more prosaic and less symbolically evocative than the previous two. For instance, the lengthy and uselessly explanatory La ragione per cui sono venuto al mondo ("the reason why I am in the world"), which translates "answer what I am for," makes explicit what Whitman had intentionally left unsaid. "Brood" is again translated in the singular form, while "native," which was originale/i in the first two versions is now, correctly but unambiguously, nata nel paese, literally "born in the land." Given the year of its publication, this last choice may be read as a symptom of the insurgence of a nationalistic ideology in Italy (in 1922 Mussolini marched on Rome), as well as of the resurfacing of nationalism throughout Europe.

"I progress" is newly, and correctly, translated as Io non procedo innanzi, which recuperates the process/progress metaphor, while the previous girolando becomes the more pertinent gironzolando, which, with giro embedded, once more proves how central, and structuring, the wheel/turn metaphor is for this Italian translator.

"Poeti dell'avvenire," together with all the other poems translated by Gamberale, played a major part in the process of domesticating Whitman for Italian culture. Conflating the historic man and his poetic persona, Gamberale projected through his translation the image of the poet as a robust, virile man, self-centered and in close touch with his body as well as with his natural and social surroundings. Whitman's modern poetry was also characterized as masculine and prized over the feminized decadent poetry of nineteenth-century Italy. Some of the words Gamberale used to describe the poet as the new "manly man," like gagliardo ("valiant"), together with camerata ("comrade"), would become popular with the futurists and play major ideological roles in the fascist era.

Giachino's "O poeti venturi"

For sixty-three years Gamberale's translations dominated the Italian scene and, through Whitman, helped usher modern free verse into Italian poetry. But, during the fascist era and through World War II, leftist intellectuals, many of them communists, looked at American democracy as the antidote to fascism and read U.S. literature as if it were a gateway to freedom as well as a means of opening up Italy's claustrophobic nationalist or escapist literature. One of these communist intellectuals, the writer Cesare Pavese, who had graduated from the University of Torino with a dissertation on Walt Whitman,8 was the editor of the American Literature series published by the Turin publisher Einaudi. In that role, he published in 1950 the second complete translation of Leaves of Grass (1891–92), Foglie d'erba, edited and translated by Enzo Giachino. Giachino was a translator and academic who, having spent a great part of his life teaching in American universities, had direct experience of Italian and American society and culture, through which he gained a sound mastery of both languages. In Giachino's introduction to Foglie d'erba Whitman emerges as an artist and, most of all, as the very incarnation of the poet as worker, his early experiences in typesetting, printing, and publishing having prepared him for his mestiere di poeta, his workmanship as a poet.9 Although Giachino's emphasis on writing as work seems indebted to Pavese's influence, his interpretation of Whitman's artistic work as integral to the economic, cultural, and ideological construction of society, tells of the new role writers and intellectuals were expected to play in post-war Italy.

What are the most relevant features of Giachino's "O poeti venturi"? Two aspects characterize the whole text: the translator's attempt at producing recognizable poetic lines and his interpretive stance. By using mostly anapestic and dactylic feet, Giachino shapes the lines so that they read like a quite polished Italian poem, with a recognizable rhythmic structure. By framing the apostrophic text as if it were a legacy or a testament (and this notwithstanding the oratorical, vocative O before poeti venturi), he drops one of the outstanding features in Gamberale's version—the creation of a dialogic interaction between the poet speaking in the present and the poets of the future.

More importantly, his speaking persona is a Christ-like figure, transcending time and place, and is thus more eternal than universal, as in Gamberale. A number of Giachino's expressive and lexical choices reveal his interpretations of "Poets to Come," beginning with ciò che sono, which translates "what I am" in the second line, and which is echoed, but also consolidated in its symbolic and referential implications, at the beginning of the seventh line, in Io sono colui che. This last statement has significant symbolic resonance. The sentence Io sono colui che immediately evokes both Io sono colui che sono ("I am what I am"), God's answer to Moses in Exodus (3:13–15), and Jesus's Io sono ("I am") in the New Testament (John 18:4–6).

The lexically reduced, but symbolically enhanced, presence of the god-like speaking subject in the text is even more evident if we compare it with the first translation by Gamberale, where we have four Io's in subject position and two me's in the object position, making a total of six. In Gamberale's giustificare me, the tonic, accusative form me is given particular emphasis while in Giachino's giustificarmi the enclitic object particle mi is absorbed within the verb. The "you," translated as a plural voi by both translators, is present seven times in Gamberale and five times in Giachino. However, Giachino succeeds in making the voi relevant by ending his translation with a final voi. While both the speaking io and the voi in Gamberale's translation express an almost obsessive individuality and agency, as if to reaffirm their presence in the world, in Giachino the voi enters the aura of the god-like io to be absorbed within the miraculous reality of resurrection. Giachino's Sorgete! for "Arouse!", in Italian evokes risorgete ("resurrect"). But resurrection from the dead does not simply make Christ a unique person; it also symbolizes his power. Giachino's voi, like Lazarus in the Gospel, is more the recipient of the poet's saving or resurrecting word than an active participant in the creation of that word. Within this frame of reference, Giachino misses both the American and the figurative-symbolic reading of "brood," which he translates as stirpe ("progeny"), a word of Latin origin, meaning "tree trunk" or "root," and possibly referring to family lineage.

While his translation represents the linear time-space dimension of the original—though with an added religious connotation of teleological salvific time—Giachino misses the circular time symbolism and its metaphoric wording altogether. Thus "to wheel and hurry back" becomes per volgermi, e rituffarmi ("to turn, and plunge"), where the turning of the poet, rather than the circular movement of wheeling, is enhanced. His volgermi, moreover, is echoed by volge, with which he translates "averts," thus blurring the difference between the two gestures. In Giachino's translation, the speaker's wheeling back into darkness and his casual look at future poets end up being acts of individual will rather than necessitated behaviors.

Tenebra, for "darkness," a word much used in Italian literature (i.e., Dante: Lume non è . . . anzi è tenebra, Paradise XIX), also has religious implications, given its connection to sin and the fall of humankind. In a more restricted sense, tenebrae is also the overall name given to matins and lauds for the last three days of Holy Week in the Roman Catholic Church. Giachino's tenebra, then, once more reinforces the resurrectional character of the poet speaking in the text, as if he were part of a family destined to be resurrected, to come back from the land of the dead. Thus, two apparently unconnected lexical choices, stirpe and tenebre, end up reinforcing the image of the family of poets reproducing itself and continuing over and through time.

Ariodante Marianni's "Poeti futuri"

Though Giachino's has been the only complete Italian translation of Leaves of Grass in print for the past sixty years, other volumes of selected poems have appeared; the most culturally relevant has been Foglie d'erba, edited by Biancamaria Tedeschini Lalli, with a preface by Giorgio Manganelli. The version of "Poets to Come" included in this volume was translated by Ariodante Marianni, a painter and a poet in his own right. Published in 1988, the book contains the most authoritative selection of Whitman's poems in print. For the first time, moreover, the English texts of the translated poems are included.10

This selection is important for a number of reasons. Preceding Whitman's poems is an extensive anthology of poems addressed to Whitman by poets around the world. The volume therefore presents itself as an homage, and an extended answer, to Whitman's summons in "Poets to Come." The volume can also be considered a response to the major changes in Italian culture brought about by student protests, the workers' movements, and by a rekindling of a non-communist leftist culture in the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.

From the outset, then, the volume concretizes the editor's intention to give prominence to the worldwide reception and influence of Whitman's poetry and to demonstrate the relevance of both his message and his poetic form for a greatly changed, and more internationalized, Italian reading public. One year later, in 1989, the film Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir, made Whitman popular again with the younger generations. The film highlighted the pertinence of Whitman's message and demonstrated that his poetry could provide a response to cultural restrictions, authoritarianism, and conservatism, as it did for the generations that resisted the predominating social climate of the Cold-War years in the U.S. In the autumn of the same year, the Berlin wall fell.

A symptom of the changed times is Marianni's use of the word vagabondo to characterize Whitman. Giuseppe Conte and Antonio Troiano, two and three years later, would adopt the same word, proving that Marianni's version of "Poets to Come" marks the dividing line between previous translations and those to follow. One more feature of the 1988 Foglie d'erba is worth mentioning. In her introduction, Tedeschini Lalli advances the Italian re-evaluation of Whitman's poetry. Where Giachino had brought to light Whitman's work as a craftsman and artist, Tedeschini Lalli, in tune with F. O. Matthiessen, presents Leaves as a language experiment, emphasizing Whitman's use of language as a form of provocation and his vision of "language as an ever-changing object, a vehicle of a world whose signs and whose meanings are continuously sliding in the intrinsic dynamism of history."11 By pointing out this fact, Tedeschini Lalli also entertains a dialogue with the Italian "Neo Vanguard" and its formal experimentation with language by offering Whitman as a model. The short preface by Giorgio Manganelli, one of the founders of the famous "Gruppo 63," and a major player in the "Neo Vanguard" movement, serves as evidence of this connection.

What are the peculiarities of Marianni's translation? The most relevant variations in relation to the previous translations are his use of two nouns, futuro ("future") and vagabondo ("vagabond") where Whitman had two verbs, an infinitive ("to come") and a present-participle ("sauntering"); his limited use of the subject pronoun io (only in lines 5 and 7); his preference for a declarative, rather than an apostrophic address; his privileging of sight, and the speaker's gaze, thus giving space prominence over time; and his suppression of directionality and progression in time.

I would like to begin with his telltale use of vagabondo, a word that firmly anchors the poem in the Italian culture of the post-1968 years and also testifies to the literary and ideological influence of the Beat generation. The image of the speaking subject as a vagabond and a loafer is legible in the phrase "sauntering along." In "Poets to Come," however, the subject enters a complex paradigm of movement in space/time signalled by the triple repetition of "to come," in the title and in the first line, and by the adverbial "along" that accompanies "sauntering." The speaking subject in Whitman's poem is portrayed as walking/living on a stretch of road which also represents his life-span, while the proleptic gaze of the speaker anticipates an analogous movement towards him—from a far away stretch of "road-time" and many undefined continents—by the poets "to come." The meeting of present and future poets somewhere along the time-line is further complicated by Whitman's use of the circular metaphor, which condenses the interaction of measured biographical and historical time with cyclical natural time and undifferentiated cosmic time. This temporal intertwining lends ambiguity to the text and makes it representative of both its author and America, and of any poet at any time and in any place in the world, as the reader and the poet are mirrored in the voice of the text, which becomes their atemporal meeting place.12

With his use of vagabondo, Marianni stresses non-directional mobility instead of teleological historical movement, and, essentializing it, makes it an attribute of the speaker. His poet-speaker has also lost depth and prophetic authority with the disappearance from his Italian translation of the circular time represented in "wheel and hurry back," translated as voltarmi e riaffrettarmi nel buio ("turn and hurry back again into darkness"). His riaffrettarmi, moreover, as a translation of "hurry back," implies a previous interruption and hides the image of the present poet's circular return to the place where he originally came from. Translating "to wheel" as voltarmi, Marianni also chooses a synonym of Giachino's volgermi. But Marianni's lexical choice, with the word volto ("visage") legible within the verb, anticipates the relevance given to the gaze in the following lines. His vagabond poet, who getta a caso uno sguardo su di voi ("throws a casual look"), adds a more explicit sexual innuendo to the representation of Whitman, as if he were ambiguously propositioning future poets. With this gaze they are invited to "analyze" (analizzarlo) the poet, in order to reconstruct his full image.

Marianni's emphasis on sight semantically invests another lexical item that differentiates his translation from the previous ones: the word schietta, which in the third line translates "native." Eliding the animal symbolism of "brood," Marianni's lexical choice seems to offer a racialist reading of stirpe ("progeny"). Schietta, as a qualifier of stirpe, may mean "pure," or "not contaminated." Yet, in its other meaning, as "sincere," "clear," or "frank," the word is usually associated with speech and appearance, and thus voice and gaze. Frankness or sincerity, then, is what connects present and future poets, according to Marianni's translation.

Within this symbolic context, the two occurrences of io in the poem, io scrivo solo una o due parole and Io sono un vagabondo, seem to connect writing, movement, and social marginality. In Marianni's translation future poets are readers and interpreters, who, returning the poet's loving gaze, both respond to and question his symbolic gesture of love, as well as the model of the poet as vagabond.

"Poeti venturi" and "Poeti futuri"

Two slim volumes of selected poems in a bilingual edition, published in 1990 and 1991, contain the most recent Italian translations of "Poets to Come" that we will consider here. The very title of the selection edited and translated by Antonio Troiano, O capitano mio capitano (Crocetti 1990), betrays the influence Dead Poets Society had on this volume ("O Captain! My Captain!" played a large role in that film, of course) and the book's appeal to a larger, and possibly younger, reading public.

Like Giachino's, Troiano's translation of "Poets to come" as "Poeti venturi" ("coming poets") is the most faithful, and successful, rendering of the original to date. And yet, Troiano's use of the future form uri (of Latin origin) indicates that he mistakenly associates the future as the time characterizing not just the poets to come but also the speaking subject. Misinterpreting Whitman's "I myself but write . . . / I but advance . . . . ," Troiano translates the original present tense as the future in Io scriverò solo una o due parole . . . / Non potrò avanzare ("I will only write . . . / I will but proceed"), totally disregarding the interplay of present and future, as well as the time/place dislocation of speaker and addressees in the original. He also completely misses the cyclical time symbolism of "wheel," which he, like Marianni, translates as voltarmi, though depriving it of the erotic innuendo found in Marianni's translation.

Troiano's poet sounds more like a teacher, addressing inattentive schoolchildren, whose failing attention must be rekindled. The first person pronoun emerges twice, in the fifth and seventh line, as a willing and planning agent and a dominating speaking voice while the addressees have a more subdued presence (with the voi often in the enclitic form vi). With his destatevi ("wake up") and a prosaic and rather explicative spetta a voi giustificarmi ("it is your task to justify me") in the seventh line, the poet seems to require that future poets do what they must. At the same time, his Lasciandovi il compito di ("leaving to you the homework") unveils his didactic, teacherly side, as if he were assigning future poets their homework.

Troiano also firmly roots the speaking poet and his addressees on American soil by translating "original" as Americana and "brood" as stirpe. In this context, the "you" is definitely American. As an early incarnation of one of Kerouac's bums, Troiano's poet is also definitely the most American of the poets in all Italian translations of "Poets to Come." And yet, though his vagabondo may remind his readers of the Beat Generation vagabonds, in his translation the poet has no depth and his message seems to lead those who would follow him nowhere.

Edited and translated by the poet Giuseppe Conte, the 1991 Foglie d'erba is, like Troiano's, the product of one person's choices and preferences. The book, published by the largest Italian publisher, Mondadori, seems to address a select audience of poets more than a large cultivated public, given its inclusion of an essay by world-renowned critic Harold Bloom and its reprinting of Thoreau's letter (December 7, 1856) to Harrison Blake about Whitman; concluding the book, Thoreau's letter accentuates some of the characteristics of Whitman's poetry that seem to have been important for the editor and translator himself. It also explains the pre-eminence of future poets in his "Poeti futuri" ("future poets"),13 for Conte carefully avoids the first person pronoun (Io only appears once, in the fifth line) and prefers the enclitic object form mi. Instead, he attributes greater evidence to voi in the tonic position (it appears five times), while the repetition of the letter "v" also reinforces the presence of the second person plural pronoun. Voi also, emblematically, closes the poem.

Conte recovers the symbolic and universalizing elements present in Whitman's text by translating "brood" as nidiata—like Gamberale's, a figurative equivalent of the original—and by making it cohere with nativa through alliteration (nuova nidiata, nativa). His girarmi ("turn around") for "wheel" also recuperates the circular dimension of time. The speaking subject is un uomo che vagabonda. His vagabondare, however, is not the speaker's essence but an activity, in line with his symbolic walking in and out of historical time and into the generative time of poetry.


1. Antonio Bruers to Luigi Gamberale, 30 May 1916. In Luigi Gamberale e la cultura italiana ed europea tra Otto e Novecento: biografia attraverso le lettere, edited by Antonella Iannucci (Roma: Bulzoni, 1997), 328 [back]

2. On the marks of the translator in the translated text, see Marina Camboni, "A Never-Finished Job: Translating H.D.'s Trilogy into Italian," in Translating America: The Circulation of Narratives, Commodities, and Ideas Across the Atlantic, edited by Marina Camboni, Andrea Carosso, Sonia Di Loreto, and Marco Mariano (Peter Lang: Bern, 2011), 241–254. [back]

3. All translations from Italian texts are mine. [back]

4. See Gamberale, "Walt Whitman," in Canti scelti di Walt Whitman, translated by Luigi Gamberale (Milano: Sonzogno, 1887), 1:2–14. [back]

5. For Gamberale's translations, see Walt Whitman, Canti scelti di Walt Whitman, 2 volumes, translated by Luigi Gamberale (Milano: Sonzogno, 1890); Walt Whitman, Foglie di erba: con le due aggiunte e gli Echi della vecchiaia dell'edizione del 1900, translated by Luigi Gamberale (Milano: R. Sandron, 1907); Walt Whitman, Foglie di erba: con le due aggiunte e gli Echi della vecchiaia dell'edizione del 1900, 2 volumes, seconda edizione riveduta, versione di Luigi Gamberale (Milano: R. Sandron, 1923). [back]

6. "Walt Whitman," in Canti scelti di Walt Whitman, translated by Luigi Gamberale (Milano: Sonzogno, 1887), 10. Emphasis added. [back]

7. Luigi Gamberale, Preface to Foglie di erba: con le due aggiunte e gli Echi della vecchiaia dell'edizione del 1900, translated by Luigi Gamberale (Milano: R. Sandron, 1907), xxxix. [back]

8. See the essay he published in 1951, "Whitman: poesia del far poesia." Pavese's essay was translated by Roger Asselineau and published as "Whitman—Poetry of Poetry Writing" in Walt Whitman and the World, edited by Gay Wilson Allen and Ed Folsom (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1995), 274–281. [back]

9. Enzo Giachino, Preface to Foglie d'erba, translated by Enzo Giachino (Torino: Einaudi, 1993). [back]

10. This fact must be read as proof of the emergence of English as the language of culture and education in Italy. In a few years' time it will completely supplant French as the international language of communication and commerce. [back]

11. Biancamaria Tedeschini Lalli, Introduction to Foglie d'erba (Milano: Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 1988), 17, 19. [back]

12. Marianni seems to articulate in his Italian text what John Burroughs wrote about Whitman's poem in his Conservator article. See John Burroughs, "Two Critics on Walt Whitman," Conservator 6 (1895): 84. [back]

13. In this, Conte's interpretation is close to Steven Schneider in "Poets to Come," in Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, edited by J. R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland, 1998), 529. [back]


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