Biography of Salvatore Quasimodo
Salvatore Quasimodo was born in Sicily. He studied Greek and Latin from the age of twenty and became a professor of literature in Milan. He translated Shakespeare and Greek lyric poetry. Between 1930 and 1938 he was the leader of the Hermetic school of ‘poesia pura’.
In 1908 his family moved to Messina, as his father had been sent there to help the population struck by a devastating earthquake. The impressions of the effects of natural forces would have a great impact on the young Quasimodo. In 1919 he graduated from the local Technical College. In Messina he also made friends with Giorgio La Pira, future mayor of Florence.
In 1917 Quasimodo founded the short-lived Nuovo giornale letterario ("New Literary Journal"), in which he published his first poems. In 1919 he moved to Rome to finish his engineering studies, but poor economic conditions forced him to find a work as a technical draughtsman. In the meantime he collaborated with several reviews and studied Greek and Latin.
In 1929, invited by Elio Vittorini, who had married Quasimodo's sister, he moved to Florence. Here he met poets such as Alessandro Bonsanti and Eugenio Montale. In 1930 he took a job with Italy's Civil Engineering Corps in Reggio Calabria. Here he met the Misefari brothers, who encouraged him to continue writing. Developing his nearness to the hermetic movement, Quasimodo published his first collection, Acque e terre ("Waters and Earths") in that year.
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Salvatore Quasimodo Poems
Enemy Of Death
You should not have ripped out your image taken from us, from the world, a portion of beauty.
Wind At Tindari
Tindari, I know you mild between broad hills, overhanging the waters of the god’s sweet islands. Today, you confront me and break into my heart.
Street In Agrigentum
There is still the wind that I remember firing the manes of horses, racing, slanting, across the plains, the wind that stains and scours the sandstone,
Ed È Subito Sera
Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world pierced by a ray of sunlight, and suddenly it is evening.
Uomo Del Mio Tempo
You are still the one with the stone and the sling, Man of my time. You were in the cockpit, With the malevolent wings, the meridians of death,
To My Father
Where Messina lay violet upon the waters, among the mangled wires and rubble, you walk along the rails and switches in your islanders'
To My Father
Where Messina lay
violet upon the waters, among the mangled wires
and rubble, you walk along the rails
and switches in your islanders'
cock-of-the-walk beret. For three days now,
the earthquake boils, it's hurricane December
and a poisoned sea. Our nights fall
into the freight cars; we, young livestock,
count our dusty dreams with the dead