The Life and Works of Nobel Prize-winning Poet Salvatore Quasimodo

Salvatore Quasimodo

Salvatore Quasimodo is a renowned figure in the world of literature, recognized most prominently for his significant contributions to the realm of poetry. Born in Modica, Italy, on this day August 20, 1901, Quasimodo’s early life was a blend of both traditional scholastic education and self-education. It was this unique mix that paved the way for his poetic journey, which later led him to become a Nobel laureate.

Quasimodo’s works are an embodiment of the literary movement known as Hermeticism. This movement, which started in Italy in the 1930s, was characterized by its emphasis on introspective and obscure content, and it was within this framework that Quasimodo crafted his verse. His poetry often reflects profound emotional intensity and a deep connection to personal experiences, thus, making him a poignant voice of Hermeticism.

One of Quasimodo’s most famous collections is Life Is Not a Dream (La vita non è sogno), published in 1949. His other significant works include And Suddenly It’s Evening (Ed è subito sera) and Day After Day (Giorno dopo giorno), both of which are considered seminal works in Italian literature. These works not only exhibit Quasimodo’s unique hermetic style but also reflect his strong connection to his homeland and his acute sensitivity towards social issues.

In 1959, Salvatore Quasimodo was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his innovative and impactful poetry. The Nobel Committee praised him “for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times,” acknowledging his contribution to reshaping the landscape of 20th century Italian poetry. The accolade not only solidified Quasimodo’s place among the great literary figures of his time but also served as a testament to the power and potential of Hermeticism.

Quasimodo passed away in 1968 but his legacy lives on. His contributions to Hermeticism and the world of poetry remain influential, inspiring countless poets and writers to explore introspective themes and personal experiences in their work. Truly, Salvatore Quasimodo’s life and works serve as a beacon for those seeking to understand and appreciate the depths of human emotion through literature.

Street in Agrigentum

There is still the wind that I remember
firing the manes of horses, racing,
slanting, across the plains,
the wind that stains and scours the sandstone,

and the heart of gloomy columns, telamons,
overthrown in the grass. Spirit of the ancients, grey

with rancour, return on the wind,
breathe in that feather-light moss
that covers those giants, hurled down by heaven.
How alone in the space that’s still yours!
And greater, your pain, if you hear, once more,
the sound that moves, far off, towards the sea,
where Hesperus streaks the sky with morning:
the jew’s-harp vibrates
in the waggoner’s mouth
as he climbs the hill of moonlight, slow,
in the murmur of Saracen olive trees.

-Salvatore Quasimodo

Curated by Jennifer

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