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100 Poems by Umberto Saba, edited and translated by Patrick Worsnip – review

In his introduction to the FSG Book of Twentieth Century Italian Poetry, Geoffrey Brock describes Umberto Saba as one of the three poets who were to leave the deepest imprint on twentieth century Italian poetry, the other two being Ungaretti and Montale. His reputation in Italy was apparently much slower to emerge than theirs and my impression is that he’s still much less well known in England. This is partly because of the nature of his writing. Like Ungaretti and Montale, he moved away from the highly rhetorical style that had dominated the work of the previous generation of Italian … Continue Reading


Three things keep drawing me back to Dante’s Commedia: the skill, inventiveness and human depth of his story-telling, his lyrical genius, and the beauty of his terza rima meter. His use of terza rima can only be enjoyed in Italian, which for me involves heavy dependence on English translations and on the notes and glosses in modern Italian given in Anna Maria Chiavacci Leonardi’s editions of the Commedia for Zanichelli and Oscar Mondadori. In this essay I want to focus on comparing how the narrative and lyrical aspects of the poems come through in Ned Denny’s freely adaptive poetic version, … Continue Reading