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The Night Fountain

The Night Fountain

by Salvatore Quasimodo

Bilingual English / Italian edition

Translated by Marco Sonzogni & Gerald Dawe
Introduced by Alessandro Quasimodo

Part of our Arc Classics: New Translations of Great Poets of the Past series edited by Jean Boase-Beier

This book reproduces for the first time the contents of a manuscript given to a school-friend by the nineteen-year-old Quasimodo, a manuscript which only came to light in 1970 as a result of extensive investigations by the poet's grandson Alessandro. Frayed and faded, but with an orderly table of contents and sealed by the young poet's signature, the manuscript contains poems written between 1917 and 1920. Here there are landscapes brimming with memories and vibrating with emotions, sounds that are intense and unmistakeable, images of Arcadia and autobiographical references. While the writing is not yet mature, it does contain hints of the poetic spirituality that was soon to emerge.

The Night Fountain discloses a great poet in the making, now veering into Expressionism, now surreal, but always with an imaginative prosody and a voice that admits us into its intimacy. There is at once abundance and refinement here, and many of the elements that ago into his great work. The translations are resourceful and inventive, keeping faith with the movement of the originals.

Michael Schmidt, Professor of Poetry, University of Glasgow and Editor, Carcanet Press

The Night Fountain is a Quasimodo's early poems, lyrical gems that reveal the translators' astute poetic sensitivity. Sonzogni and Dawe have captured the outpouring of a range of youthful emotions while heightening the reader's awareness of the young poet's debt to the classical and the lyrical in the Italian poetic tradition.... Allowing the young poet's sense for ritual to sit comfortably alongside his nomadic spirit, this collection of previously untranslated poems introduces the English-speaking reader to the linguistic richness of a young Quasimodo.

Bernadette Luciano, Associate Professor of Italian, The University of Auckland

Salvatore Quasimodo was born - and lived - through historical tragedies which impressed his mind for ever. What one hears in his lines are the tears of mankind and its wail. Sonzogni and Dawe have captured the singular strength of Quasimodo and heard the penetrating voices of humanity. Their translations of this particular poet are a beautiful work of rendering history in rhyme and do more than justice to the art and the feelings of Salvatore Quasimodo. The night Fountain should be read and re-read, learned and re-learned, and must be at hand to every reader who can only gain from its penetrating elegy.

Allen Mandelbaum, Kenan Professor of Humanities, Wake Forest University

84 pages
ISBN: 978 1904614 05 0 (pbk)
ISBN: 978 1906570 87 6 (hbk)
Published September 2008