October 16, 2022

Andrea Zanzotto (Italy) 1921-2011

Andrea Zanzotto (Italy)



Born on October 10, 1921 in Pieve di Soligo near Treviso, Andra Zanzotto is one of the most respected contemporary poets in Italy. His father, Giovanni, received degrees from the École supèrieure de peinture in Brussels and from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. During his early ears the young Andrea lived with his parents near via Sirtori, but in 1922 they moved to the house in the Cal Santa district which is often described by the poet in his works.

     In 1939 Zanzotto enrolled in the College of Letters at the University of Padua, working at the magazine Il Bo. He received his degree in Italian literature in 1942, writing on the work of Grazia Deledda.

     He was called into military service soon after, but was deferred for asthma and other causes. He refused to respond to volunteer recruitment of the Fascist Party.

     Zanzotto taught for several years in high schools, contributing to numerous newspapers and journals, including writing a literary page in Il Corriere della sera. He published his first poetry collection in 1951, Dietro il paesaggio. Other books, including Vocativo, La Beltà, and Filò soon followed, further establishing his reputation.

     A recipient of many awards and a skilled reader of classical as well as contemporary literature, Zanzotto has also published a long series of brilliant essays. Mondadori brought out two volumes: Fantasie di avvicinamento (1991) and Aure e disincanti (1994).





Dietro il paesaggio (Milan: Mondadori, 1951); Elegia e altri versa (Milan: Edizioni della meridiana); Vocativo (Milan: Mondadori, 1962); IX Egloghe (Milan: Mondadori, 1962); La Beltà (Milan: Mondadori, 1968); Gli sguardi i fatti e Senhal (Milan: Mondadori, 1969, 1990); A che valse? (Versi 1938-1986) (Milano: Scheiwiller, 1970); Pasque (Milan: Mondadori, 1973); Poesie (1938-1972) (Milan: Mondadori, 1973); Filò. Per Il Casanova di Felli (Milan: Mondadori, 1976); Il galateo in bosco (Milan: Mondadori, 1978); Filò e altre poesie (Milan: Scheiwiller, 1984); Fosfeni (Milan: Mondadori, 1983); Idioma (Milan: Mondadori, 1986); Poesie (1938-1986) (Milan: Mondadori, 1993); Meteo (Rome: Donzelli, 1996); Sovrimpressioni (Milan: Mondadori, 2001); Conglomerati (Milan: Mondadori, 2009)





Selected Poetry of Andrea Zanzotto, trans. by Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1975); Poems by Andrea Zanzotto, trans. by Antony Barnett and A. B. Lewes; Peasant's Wake for Fellini's "Casanova" and Other Poems, trans. by John P. Welle and Ruth Feldman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997); Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto, trans. by Patrick Barron, Ruth Feldman, Thomas J. Harrison, Brian Swann, John P. Welle, and Elizabeth A. Wilkins (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007)





by Andrea Zanzotto


At Padua, they said, the friends,

"I knew him also."

Nearby, the grumble of dirty water,

of a dirty factory:

stupendous in the silence.

Because it was night. "I

knew him also."

Sharpening the thought

of you who are now

neither subject nor object,

neither plain speech nor jargon,

neither quiescence nor motion,

nor even that

for which my eyes

have threaded the eyes of needles,

negating you not



So be it: still I

believe with as much conviction

in all my nothingness.

That is why I haven't lost you.

Or rather, that the more of you I lose, the more you lose yourself,

the more alike we are, the closer we become.


translated from the Italian by Wayne Chambliss

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