Skip to conten“One poem a day keeps Italian at bay!”
“Perdona il gioco di parole” (Sorry for the pun), but you can really read famous italian poems, improve your culture & your Italian at the same time…
If you will be able to listen a poem every day, your knowledge of the Italian language will surely improve!
Ok, we can say the same for songs, movies, games, etc., but poems are possibly better because they (and literature in general) are the work of skilled writers and poets.
In this page you will find a selection of poetries in the Italian language and some suggestions on how to use them to learn Italian.
Of course it’s better to begin with short simple Italian poems and, possibly, learn them by heart.
Just the shortest ones, of course!… If you really like poetry you can read and listen to any poem and learn Italian, we could say, “poem by poem”, i.e. “step by step”
It takes time, but with this method you can “unire l’utile al dilettevole” (combine business with pleasure) as an Italian would say.
Think of poetry as music without instruments!
Read Italian Poetry, Why?
So, what are the many reasons why learning Italian with poetry is a great idea?
1. You will learn many new words
2. Poetry has a different sintax than the normal language
3. Poetry words create images
4. You can practice silent and aloud reading easily because poetries are normally short (reading poetry is much much simpler than reading a book or an article).
5. For famous Italian poems you’ll find easily the English translation online
6. You can easily practice listening – again the text of a poetry is short
7. And… you can write poetries too, maybe very simple poetries, maybe not masterpieces. Petries can be very short and not necessarily logical like other texts, so you can write more freely.
8. By learning famous Italian poems you will learn the culture of the of Italy.
9. Poetries are easier to memorize
Mattina by Giuseppe Ungaretti
I illumine me
This is one of the most famous poetries of Giuseppe Ungaretti… and probably the shortest poetry ever written!
The title is fundamental because it recalls a moment when the poet, during the war, was embraced by a very strong light coming from above, together with a feeling of warmth.
This light illumed the surrounding environment making him shine from the inside and allowing him to perceive the immensity of the infinite..
That’s the moment when the finite and the infinite become one thing: there is nothing around now, only a great light that gives a deep intuitive understanding to Ungaretti and put him in contact the absolute.
Ho sceso dandoti il braccio” by Eugenio Montale
Ho sceso, dandoti il braccio, almeno un milione di scale
I went down a million stairs, at least, arm in arm with you.
E ora che non ci sei è il vuoto ad ogni gradino.
And now that you are not here, I feel emptiness at each step.
Anche così è stato breve il nostro lungo viaggio.
Our long journey was brief, though.
Il mio dura tuttora, né più mi occorrono
Mine still lasts, but I don’t need
Le coincidenze, le prenotazioni,
any more connections, reservations,
le trappole, gli scorni di chi crede
traps, humiliation of those who think reality
che la realtà sia quella che si vede.
is what we are used to see.
Ho sceso milioni di scale dandoti il braccio
I went down a millions of stairs, at least, arm in arm with you,
Non già perché con quattr’occhi forse si vede di più.
and not because with four eyes we see better that with two.
Con te le ho scese perché sapevo che di noi due
With you I went downstairs because I knew, among the two of us,
Le sole vere pupille, sebbene tanto offuscate,
the only real eyes, although very blurred,
erano le tue.
belonged to you.
Verra’ La Morte e Avra’ i Tuoi Occhi by Cesare Pavese
Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi
Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi —
questa morte che ci accompagna
dal mattino alla sera, insonne,
sorda, come un vecchio rimorso
o un vizio assurdo. I tuoi occhi
saranno una vana parola,
un grido taciuto, un silenzio.
Cosí li vedi ogni mattina
quando su te sola ti pieghi
nello specchio. O cara speranza,
quel giorno sapremo anche noi
che sei la vita e sei il nulla.
Per tutti la morte ha uno sguardo.
Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi.
Sarà come smettere un vizio,
come vedere nello specchio
riemergere un viso morto,
come ascoltare un labbro chiuso.
Scenderemo nel gorgo muti.
Death will come and have your eyes
Death will come and have your eyes—
this death that accompanies us
from morning till evening, unsleeping,
deaf, like an old remorse
or an absurd vice. Your eyes
will be a useless word,
a suppressed cry, a silence.
That’s what you see each morning
when alone with yourself you lean
toward the mirror. O precious hope,
that day we too will know
that you are life and you are nothingness.
Death has a look for everyone.
Death will come and have your eyes.
It will be like renouncing a vice,
like seeing a dead face
reappear in the mirror,
like listening to a lip that’s shut.
We’ll go down into the maelstrom mute.
These beautiful verses were written in 1950, only a few months before the suicide of the poet. Cesare Pavese had taken his own life at the age of 41, after having been rejected by the American actress Constance Dowling, who is presumed to have inspired this poem.
Ed è subito sera by Salvatore Quasimodo
Ognuno sta solo
sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito seraEveryone stands alone
at the heart of the world,
pierced by a ray of sunlight,
and suddenly it’s evening..
Biglietto lasciato prima di non andar via by Giorgio Caproni
Biglietto lasciato prima di non andar via
Se non dovessi tornare,
sappiate che non sono mai partito.
Il mio viaggiare
è stato tutto un restare
qua, dove non fui mai.
Note left before not leaving
If I was not to come back,
know that I never left
was all a stay
here, where I never was.
Sembra che qualcuno by Carlo Callone
Sembra che qualcuno
Sembra che qualcuno
apre le porte,
Attendo che sia vinta
E così non credo
che sia il vento.
It seems like someone
It seems like someone
open the doors,
I’m waiting for loneliness
to be defeated.
And so I do not think
that it is the wind.
San Martino by Giosuè Carducci
La nebbia agl’irti colli
e sotto il maestrale
urla e biancheggia il mar:
ma per le vie del borgo
dal ribollir de’ tini
va l’aspro odor dei vini
l’anime a rallegrar.
Gira su’ ceppi accesi
lo spiedo scoppiettando;
sta il cacciator fischiando
su l’uscio a rimirar
Tra le rossastre nubi
stormi d’uccelli neri
nel vespero migrar.
The fog to the steep hills
amid the rain ascends,
and under the mistral
the sea screams and whitens:
but through the alleys of the village
from the bubbling vats
goes the sour smell of wine
the souls to rejoyce.
Turns on burning logs
the spit, sputtering;
stands the hunter whistling
on the door to gaze.
Among the reddish clouds
flocks of black birds
as exiled thoughts,
in the twilight migrating.
When Poetry Meets Songs and Movies
Here’s the poetry “San Martino” by Giosuè carducci sang by Fiorello, a popular italian showman. For lyrics and translation see above…
Famous Italian Poems – More Videos
There is a great number of famous Italian poems on Youtube and other video websites. To find them you can write in the search bar on of the following strings of text:
“Italian poetry” – “Italian poems” – “Poesia italiana”
To find many Italian poems with lyrics on screen you can go to Youtube and type in the search bar:
Name of the poet + lyricsName of the poet + wordsName of the poet + textName of the poet + liricaName of the poet + paroleName of the poet + testo
If you don’t know any Italian poet, click here for a list of them…