Poem Of The Day – The Italian War Poets

D’Annunzio: In a lurid vision of battle that champions the victors’ right to slaughter their foe, lay waste his cities and rape his women declared:

We shall ransack the mothers’ wombs with fire…

I smile upon the land that is my prey

Corrado Govoni’s long poem, called simply “War!” describes the entire world turning into “a long cemetery of trenches.”  How lovely to fertilize earth’s old carcass with guns. Let savage instinct be our only master. Disorder is order. Destruction is being constructed… Half a dozen breathless pages of necrophile ranting lead to a final demented exhortation:

Burn, burn,
set fire to this world until it becomes a sun.
Devastate smash destroy,
Go forth, go forth, oh lovely human flail,
be plague earthquake and hurricane.
Make a red spring
of blood and martyrdom
bloom from this old earth,
and life be like a flame.
Long live war!

Giulio Barni presented a more intellectual version:

Liberty, liberty,
if you’re a woman
come, come to me:
come and sleep with me
for I want to kill
peace and lies for you

Ungaretti: Futurists were some of the most radical propagandists for war.

I see myself abandoned in endlessness

Ungaretti’s prewar letters often sounded a Futurist note; he told a friend in 1913 that he was a Nietzschean, because he wanted “a more heroic humanity and a new aesthetic.”  Like many artists, he was drawn to absolutes of experience.


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