Mottetti: Poems of Love

Dana Gioia’s translation of Mottetti: Poems of Love, by Eugenio Montale, was published by Graywolf Press in 1990. Mottetti marked the first time this important sequence of love poems by Nobel Prize-winner Montale appeared in the United States in its own edition.

“This new translation of Montale’s Mottetti is an event of magnitude. Poems about love, about man’s place—and displacement—in the natural world, about rememberance and loss, these are among the finest works of a high poetic intelligence: modern yet magisterial; now lyrical, now cryptically astringent. Dana Gioia deserves our gratitude, praise, and admiration for his inspired translations of these extraordinary poems.”—Shirley Hazzard

“Made into English poems of startling, contained power by Dana Gioia, one of our finest young poets, Mottetti comprises an important contribution not only to our understanding of modern European verse, but also to our own poetry”—Tom Clark, San Francisco Chronicle

Motet I

You know this: I must lose you again and cannot.
Every action, every cry strikes me
like a well-aimed shot, even the salt spray
that spills over the harbor walls
and makes spring
dark against the gates of Genoa.

Country of ironwork and ship masts
like a forest in the dust of evening.
A long drone comes from the open spaces
scraping like a nail on a windowpane. I look
for the sign I have lost, the only pledge
I had from you.
Now hell is certain.