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(1778 - 1827 / Italy)

Biography of Ugo Foscolo

Ugo Foscolo poet

Ugo Foscolo was born January 26 1778, at Zante in the Ionian Isles. He was an Italian poet and patriot. His name was originally Niccolo Foscolo. A devoted Venetian, he pinned his hope of a restored republic on Napoleon and fought under him against the Austrians, even after Napoleon's political untrustworthiness had become evident. Upon Napoleon's defeat and the annexation of Venice to Austria, Foscolo exiled himself to London, where at first he had great social success. Having spent his earnings, he was forced to give lessons and write articles and for several years before his death lived in extreme poverty.

His novel, The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis (1798–1802, tr. 1818), an account of his political disillusionment, exerted a strong influence on Italian letters, as did also his critical essays, translations, and lyric poems, especially Sepulchres (1807).

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A Zacinto

I'll never step ashore and feel your beach
the way I felt it as a barefoot child,
or see you waver in the windy reach
of goddess-bearing sea. You were the island
Venus made with her first smile,
Zakynthos, the moment she was born.
No song embraced your leafy sky,
not even his who sang the fatal storm
and how Ulysses, his misfortunes past

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