This poem is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.Poems (translated by J.G. Nichols)
Guido Gozzano (1883-1916) strolled into prominence (in Montale's admiring phrase) 'in a friendly way, with his hands in his pockets'. For his contemporaries this apparent insouciance made a refreshing change from Carducci's habitual seriousness and d'Annunzio's insistent sensuality.
Gozzano's usual subject matter is the banal domestic life of northern Italy in the first two decades of our century, treated with a recurrent nostalgia for its fairly recent past, and a strong if half-contemptuous affection for the bourgeois paraphernalia, the 'good things in the worst taste', which still cluttered drawingrooms or bad already found their way into attics. Still little known in England, this poetry, deliberately low-key and conversational, has an irony reminiscent of Laforgue's and a questioning uncertainty which make it a landmark of modernism in Italy.
J. G. Nichols is currently completing a volume of Gozzano 's poems and letters.
THE ULTIMATE INFIDELITY
Sadness, sweet thing, you used to be the friend,
not long since, of the boy just back from school
having a bite to eat, bent over dull
Greek sentences that never seemed to end . . .
And later, what a sentimental stroll!
You and your adolescent, almost blind
with wild desire at the imagined sound
of one voice or one feminine footfall.
Sadness is fading fast away today
for ever from this weather-beaten heart,
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