Songs of the Island
by Ada Negri

Edited and Translated by
Maria A. Costantini

Midwest Book Review

Midwest Book Review 107.3 (June 2011)

Ably translated from Italian by Maria A. Costantini, Songs of the Island is a 129-page collection of the poetry of Ada Negri. Her first volume of poetry was originally published in 1894. Her themes arose from her observations and experiences with respect to the struggle of the working class, her personal problems (that included a divorce), and the conflicts leading to devastating war.

In 1940 Ada Negri became the first woman to be inducted into the Royal Academy of Italy on the basis of her lifetime of work. She died in 1945. This bilingual edition of Songs of the Island will admirably serve to introduce a whole new generation of English readers to a most unusual and gifted Italian poet.

The Village:

Among the olive trees, among the olive trees, on a day of nostalgia
with springs of tears, my village was reborn in me.
I said to my heart: “Better take the road to the sweet village again:
a heart in the distant land is a heart no longer living.”
But the olive trees, but the olive trees, with a wave of their fatherly arms,
with a kindly murmur of foliage, asked me, in chorus, “What For”
Dig deep in the soil, and look for the eternal roots of your village
wherever there’s the shade of a tree that gathers you in.”

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