Si sta come d'autunno sugli alberi le foglie

lsp

Senior Member
NY
US, English
I would like to understand better what this means. I believe it may be a poem, possibly well know in Italy, so I would also like to know who wrote it, if that is the case.

Si sta come d’autunno sugli alberi le foglie

Thanks, Lsp
 
  • DDT

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    Literally it means: "We're like leaves on branches in Autumn/Fall", the title of the poem - if I'm not wrong - is "Soldati" ("Soldiers")

    DDT
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    Thanks, everyone! I thought my boss (from Italy, and he kindly speaks to me in Italian, but this time he spoke quickly, just in passing, so I may have misunderstood him) said it was Petrarca and so I couldn't find anything. I take the meaning to be about a kind of sadness, or of the cycle of life, but poetry is not my forte. Would you say that's the meaning? Is there much more to it (I'll go look a little, too). Is Ungaretti known for any particular style or subject?

    Thanks again.
     

    walnut

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    It's just my opinion... this kind of short poetry (like japanese haikus) touches you particularly when you approach it as if it was a picture, something visual without words. It's about life, fall, uncertainty and things passing by; I can feel what's poetical in it when I visualize autumn, a tree, the leaves left on a branch, and me. Ciao! Walnut
     

    carlafed

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Ungaretti (1888-1970) belongs to a poetic movement or school called 'ermetismo' or "Italian school of obscure poetry" (with Eugenio Montale and Salvatore Quasimodo, to quote only the most important).
    The meaning of this poem is yet not very obscure. The soldiers are in the front line and their lives are in great danger. So the poet compare them (and he is one of them) to the leaves in Autumn, ready and doomed to fall from the trees.
    Their lives are very precarious, to quote a word that appeared in another thread
    ;)
    I hope it is clear. My English is not very good :eek:
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    I have been reading all about him, I now think I feel in it tenacity and vulnerability. I had not been considering the title before. Then I saw Carlafed's post (yes, precarious!) so I feel this is the right track. So much thought and emotion provoked by so few words, and as Walnut said (rather poetically), so much imagery, too... amazing.
     

    DDT

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    David said:
    We are as the leaves that cling to the branch in Fall ...
    That's a very good interpretation...yet I'd dare to say that Ungaretti's style is even more scanty, according to his hermetic poetics ;)

    DDT
     

    farfa

    New Member
    italian
    It's hard to translate.

    Feels like being leaves that stand on branches in Fall.


    Cause it's not we, not personal, it's neutral, impersonal like everyone is shaking like leaves although we don't know. Just soldiers.
    Soliders shaking in fall.
     

    _forumuser_

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I see others have been allowed comments on the qualities of the poem, so I hope I will be allowed one too. I don't see anything special in this poem. The imagery is cliched at best. Falling leaves have been a symbol of frailty and impermanence in Chinese and Japanese verse for millennia. Consider, for instance, this line from a famous poem by Bo Juyi (772-846) made famous by Ezra Pound's early 20th century translation:

    The leaves fall early in autumn, in wind.

    But there are literally thousands of examples that elaborate on this theme. Ungaretti was probably very familiar with haiku and other oriental verse forms that were hugely popular in Europe before WWI. What is really remarkable about it for me is that the literary establishment was able to turn 10 words into a cultural case celebrated by so many.

    With apologies to those who love the piece, I felt a clarification was due.
     

    Aidone

    Senior Member
    U.S. English/Brooklyn
    I would like to better understand what this poem means, sounds better to me than, I would like to understand better what this poem means.

    Si sta come d’autunno sugli alberi le foglie
    One is just autumn on the trees, the leaves.

    Perché si sta ma le foglie. "Si sta" posso avere una qualità del plurale? Oppure le foglie non è il soggetto?

    Even possibly,

    It is just autumn on the trees, the leaves.

    Per le qualitià, propendo alla interpretazione di formuser, pero non mi conosce la storia d'intorno questo poema, e i poemi come le canzoni popolari, parlano dei luogi e tempi unici ed elaborano risonanze inspiegabili. (As for qualities, I lean to forumuser's take, but I don't know the history surrounding this poem and poems like popular songs speak to a unique time and place and develop ineffable resonances.)
     

    MarcoMac

    Senior Member
    Italia
    Of course, the sentence is purposedly built a bit oddly, it would be "correct" if it was (e.g.)
    Siamo come le foglie sugli alberi in autunno

    The slight ungrammaticallity asks to think "beyond", and to start a "wondering trip".

    Si sta
    Why not "siamo" [we are] nor "stiamo" [we stay]?
    "Si sta": uncommon, impersonal construction that begs for a verb (e,g, si sta facendo buio) but there's no other verb.
    We are provided only with this uncomplete, suspended auxiliary...
    Thus, OK, it can be "we stay..." but as a suspended condition. "We stay" as a ill-condition of "we are", a sub-set of "to be", a crystallization of the existence.
    The title kicks in: "Soldiers". We soldiers stay... and stay... and stay... and stay...
    Slowly "we soldiers stay" comes to mean "we soldiers wait"... yet, we don't know what we're waiting for... we just stay.
    We are taken to the life in a WW I trench: we stay... the enemies stay... everyone stays... everything stays... the world stays.
    A whole life descripted by the means of an ungrammatical choice of "si sta" in place of "stiamo come le foglie" or "siamo come le foglie".

    Those are the first two sillables, then there're another twelve to examine... :D



    Forumser: I like your posts, I like Haiku's and I love short poetry in general... so
    Respect, bro...
    Peace!
    ...but here we're talking about an Absolute Giant. ;)
     

    Lello4ever

    Senior Member
    Italia - Italiano
    I would like to better understand what this poem means, sounds better to me than, I would like to understand better what this poem means.

    Si sta come d’autunno sugli alberi le foglie
    One is just autumn on the trees, the leaves.

    Perché si sta ma le foglie. "Si sta" posso avere una qualità del plurale? Oppure le foglie non è il soggetto?

    Even possibly,

    It is just autumn on the trees, the leaves.

    Per le qualitià, propendo alla interpretazione di formuser, pero non mi conosce la storia d'intorno questo poema, e i poemi come le canzoni popolari, parlano dei luogi e tempi unici ed elaborano risonanze inspiegabili. (As for qualities, I lean to forumuser take, but I don't know the history surrounding this poem and poems like popular songs speak to a unique time and place and develop ineffable resonances.)
    Si sta come d'autunno sugli alberi le foglie.
    Stiamo (o siamo) come le foglie (stanno) sugli alberi in autunno.
    The others explained the poetry very well.
    You can have a look here too.
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    I would like to better understand what this poem means, sounds better to me than, I would like to understand better what this poem means.
    I'm a native English speaker. Once upon a time it was considered grammatically incorrect to split an infinitive. Old habits die hard, as they say. However, your opinion is your opinion. :)

    Aidone said:
    Perché si sta ma le foglie. "Si sta" posso può avere una qualità del plurale?
     

    furs

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I think that if you read this super-short poem as if it were all on one single line you kind of lose 90% of the 'pathos'.
    Try reading it aloud like this (after all it was originally three lines, not one, if I recall correctly):
    Si sta. (and then a long, long pause)
    Come d'autunno (another pause)
    sugli alberi (short pause) le foglie.
    This is how my old literature professor at the Liceo used to read it. You'll agree it sounds different....
     

    malak_azrael

    New Member
    Italian, Italia
    Actually, the LITERAL translation is:

    It feels like
    autumn
    on trees
    the leaves.


    The grammar construction is "wrong" also in italian. It is a sort of dislocation, that emphasize the word "Autumn".
    On a "normal" construction, it would be:

    Si sta come (It feels like)
    le foglie d'autunno (autumn leaves)
    sugli alberi (on trees)
     

    ohbice

    Senior Member
    It feels like
    in autumn?
    ...

    Si sta come (We are like)
    le foglie sugli alberi (leaves on trees)
    d'autunno (in autumn)

    In my modestissima opinion :)
    (che poi alla fine in inglese la "dislocazione" c'è comunque...).
     

    malak_azrael

    New Member
    Italian, Italia
    The fact is the pronoun "We" is not specified. It could also be "I feel". It is generic, vague.
    That's why "It feels like" is more literal. Well, then it can be adapted in many ways, obviously.
     

    ohbice

    Senior Member
    A parte il fatto che trovo l'essere letterale un po' ridicolo già nella prosa (figuriamoci nella poesia), ma It feels like non mi convince perché mi viene un "Sembra di". Qui è un certamente e fortemente "(Noi) si sta", non un "mi parrebbe di stare..."
    Comunque il fatto che il soggetto sia sottointeso non implica che non vi sia. Ciao.
    p
    Ah, ho questo dubbio: in autumn non potrebbe actually essere on autumn?
    Ciao
    p
     

    malak_azrael

    New Member
    Italian, Italia
    A literal translaton is almost always wrong, when we talk about "finished transposition". But a literal translation is needed in order to understand the basic sense and THEN extract the nuances from it.
    Ungaretti used an impersonal verb, so: yes, there's no specified subject.
     

    furs

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The grammar construction is "wrong" also in italian. It is a sort of dislocation, that emphasize the word "Autumn".
    I beg to disagree: there is nothing 'wrong' here. Quite simply, the author used a well known figure of speech, called 'metatesi': https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figura_retorica. The purpose was -- as you correctly surmised -- to put emphasis, but on the verb, IMHO, rather than on anything else.
     

    malak_azrael

    New Member
    Italian, Italia
    Yes, "wrong" was in quotation marks. Because, according to italian grammatical rules, it is a "wrong" construction indeed.
     

    malak_azrael

    New Member
    Italian, Italia
    A lot of figure of speech commits errors in order to obtain specific effects. They are not "error" of course. Because they have specific purposes which are considered valid. They are "wanted error". Anacholuton, outside poetry, is always considered an error, for example. And so also hyperbaton. "Di Mario sul tavolo la penna" DO reverses the CORRECT grammar construction, in italian basic rules. But yes, it is an hyperbaton, it is considered a valid use of rules breaking.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    This is a translation into English, I quote:

    Here we are
    like leaves from trees
    in autumn


    Sounds good to me.:)

    Another one:

    One is like leaves on the trees of autumn.

    That sounds nice too.

    I hold a degree in Italian: Hermetic Poetry was one of my favourite subjects.:)
     
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    sorry66

    Senior Member
    English, England
    Si sta
    come d’autunno
    sugli alberi
    le foglie

    Nice translations LC, but they don't keep the odd word order of the Italian.

    We are
    like autumn
    its trees
    their leaves
     

    ohbice

    Senior Member
    "Si sta come d'autuno sugli alberi le foglie" = Ci troviamo nella stessa situazione in cui si trovano le foglie sugli alberi durante la stagione autunnale (le foglie stanno per cadere dagli alberi, morte, è arrivato l'autunno - gli uomini stanno per cadere a terra, morti, dato che si trovano in prima linea durante la guerra).
    Ciao
    p
     

    malak_azrael

    New Member
    Italian, Italia
    In fact, I don't understand why not keep the original sentence structure. This poem has about 4 main peculiarities (The structure is one of them), and it is not untranslatable at all.
     

    sorry66

    Senior Member
    English, England
    @Pietruzzo
    I'd alter yours like this:
    Soldiers
    Waiting
    like in autumn
    on the trees
    as leaves do.

    I'll change mine too:
    Soldiers
    Waiting
    as in autumn
    on the trees
    like leaves
     
    Last edited:

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Don't forget the title, which can be considered the first verse of the poem
    Soldiers
    Standing there
    like in Autumn
    on the trees
    leaves do
    Well, "standing there" looks like a quotation of The Beatles, actually.
    You're right. Not at all poetic, Pietruzzo, in my opinion.;) Quite apart from your use of 'like' (frowned on by many, including myself: I would use 'as if' here).:)

    Well, that's a good reason indeed. But why? Hyperbaton does exists also in english, does it? Or maybe in this case it is inevitably cacophonous? It is not rhetoric, I'm really curious.
    Of course hyperbaton exists in English.:) I did think about it, but couldn't come up with anything which convinced me.

    Visto però che non ho 'offerto' una mia versione, eccola:

    Soldiers
    We are as leaves in autumn on the trees.
     

    bobes

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    Questo accanimento nel voler portare una poesia di 8 parole da una lingua all'altra merita attenzione.

    Soldati
    Si sta come d'autunno sugli alberi le foglie

    Si sta = stare, senso di attesa, accettazione e mistero;
    come d'autunno, sugli alberi = è una molla che si sta caricando, non sappiamo ancora dove vuole arrivare, sono cose apparentemente banali ma il come iniziale è un presagio;
    le foglie = è la chiave di tutto, scarica la tensione, si collega con il titolo unendo inizio e fine (soldati - foglie), lascia al lettore la conclusione non detta (le foglie anche loro stanno);
    L'inizio (soldati) precede il corpo, la fine (stanno) segue il corpo: soldati si sta come d'autunno sugli alberi le foglie stanno.
     
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    ohbice

    Senior Member
    Soldati l'inizio? ma soldati che c'entra? Boh, che strana analisi, pensare che il titolo faccia parte della poesia. Se l'ho sentita/letta 1000 volte in vita mia, mille volte l'ho sentita/letta priva del titolo. Vuol dire che mi sono sempre rapportato a una poesia incompleta?
    Molto perplesso :confused:
    p
     

    GiorgioS

    New Member
    Italian
    I would like to understand better what this means. I believe it may be a poem, possibly well know in Italy, so I would also like to know who wrote it, if that is the case.

    Si sta come d’autunno sugli alberi le foglie

    Thanks, Lsp
    It's like being
    in the autumn
    on the trees
    the leaves
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Well, as a native English speaker who can't help being tempted by any discussion about literary translation, I would say the second essential of any translation of this poem is to preserve the structure : ' we(everyone) - autumn - trees - leaves', and the first essential is to finish with 'leaves' ;
    The French doesn't match the Italian, and I don't think it's possible to translate such a sparse poem effectively into English (the versions above which preserve the structure don't sound natural enough) ; but surely , leaving aside the rhythms, etc., of the original, the core of the meaning is in the movement from 'Si sta' to 'foglie'?
    Rather than read a translation, anyone wanting to understand the poem and knowing no Italian at all would do better to look up in a dictionary any word he couldn't guess and then go back to reading the original.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:
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