Giuseppe Ungaretti, “My House”

With thanks to Catherine Rogers 

My House (from A Major Selection of the Poems of Giuseppe Ungaretti; tr. Diego Bastianutti)
Giuseppe Ungaretti

The surprise
after so long
of a love

I thought I’d scattered
round the world

Mi Casa

dopo tanto
d’un amore

Credevo di averlo sparpagliato
per il mondo


I’ll defer to Catherine’s thought on this one. The first stanza does remind of a brick, like it is building up to something. But what builds up to what? I think every discussion I’ve had of this poem has been relentlessly positive. One realizes how much one is loved, how much one has taken for granted; that enormity makes the world your home.

I already feel every bone in my body shaking. Poems can simply celebrate, to be sure. But what about being surprised by other, darker possibilities of love? What about realizing how much you loved someone? Sometimes we’re not even aware of how much we long for someone who reciprocates nothing, gives little or no benefit daily. We can be shattered, too.

The central identification is time (“so long”) with “my house.” Love doesn’t really build. It surprises, it scatters. It’s familiarity that lets you create something more than excitement. That familiarity serves as more than a basis for nostalgia. Unknowingly, you’re building a world brick-by-brick every day. Realizing that you are or aren’t loved puts you into the fullness of that world.

1 Comment

  1. You might like to know that the translation is taken from my book “A Major Selection of the Poetry of Giuseppe Ungaretti” , Exile editions, Toronto, 1997. Bilingual Edition Translated by Diego Bastianutti with an Afterword by Giusy Oddo.
    The book received the coveted Canadian national “1998 John Glassco Prize” for best translation in English of a work of literature in a foreign language.

    Pro. Diego Bastianutti

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