The poets and the World War: "Arsiero, Asiago" and "Killed Piave-July 8-1918" by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway on crutches
There is absolutely no need to add new words on Hemingway's prose. Not now and not here, at least. Probably not everyone knew that Hemingway wrote poetry. The "problem" with Hemingway is that a novel like A Farewell to Arms overwhelms and obscures his verses. Of course you can find his poems translated into many languages, and among his verses, there is a substantial group of poems dedicated to the Great War time and his experience in Italy. What we may notice is that his poetry is probably an example of "remembered war". It is not the same situation we may find in a poet like Ungaretti, who wrote live at night or at the first light his fragmented verses and kept the collection of sheets inside his haversack, preserved by his friend and officer Ettore Serra (publisher of Il porto sepolto in 1916). If we look at this group of poems they often report a place and the date at the end. The place is not in the front line and the date is after the end of the war, usually early in the 1920s. Their brevity and the fact that they are already in English allow us to post two poems (and not only one like we have done so far).


Arsiero, Asiago,
Half a hundred more,
Little border villages,
Back before the war,
Monte Grappa, Monte Corno,
Twice a dozen such,
In the piping times of peace
Didn't come to much.

Paris ca. 1922


Desire and
All the sweet pulsing aches
And gentle hurtings
That were you,
Are gone into the sullen dark.
Now in the night you come unsmiling
To lie with me
A dull, cold, rigid bayonet
On my hot-swollen, throbbing soul

Chicago 1921

The above poems were taken from 88 poems of Ernest Hemingway edited by Nicholas Gerogiannis.