Ubaldo de Robertis

The Rings of the Universe
Translated by Adria Bernardi



ISBN 978-0-9861061-5-6
Italian-English, 193 pages

Author Biography | Read Selection

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UBALDO DE ROBERTIS, born in 1943, is a nuclear researcher and a member of the Ussero National Academy of Arts, Letters and Sciences. He has published two novels, Il tempo dorme con noi / Time Sleeping With Us (Voltaire Edizioni), which won the Giovanni Gronchi Award in 1999, and L'Epigono de Magellano / The Imitator of Magellan (Edizzioni Akkuaria), awarded the Fucecchio Prize for Fiction in 2014. He began publishing poetry only in his sixties, beginning with Diomedee / Diomedes, which came out in 2008. The present book contains excerpts from this and five subsequent award-winning collections, plus fifteen previously unpublished poems.

In a helpful introduction, translator Adria Bernardi explains that the poetry of de Robertis emerges from his study of physics and cosmology, his understanding of spacetime and quantic events, and it offers a continual exploration in new ways of thinking. He lives in Pisa.


ADRIA BERNARDI's translations include Christina Annino's Chronic Hearing: Selected Poems 1977-2012 (Chelsea Editions, 2014). She was awarded the 2007 Raiziss/de Palchi Translation fellowship to complete Small Talk, the poetry of Raffaello Baldini. She is the author of two novels, The Day Laid on the Altar (2001) and In the Gathering Woods (2002), both prize-winners; a collection of short stories; a collection of essays and an oral history, Houses With Names: The Italian Immigrants of Highwood, Illinois (1989).



About Parti del discorso (poetico)

"As Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking have said, we are about to enter an era of revolution in the conception of the universe... of universes... of the multiverse... and poetry cannot remain off to the side watching, or to put another way, ignoring the coming of the immanent Copernican revolution without finding the strength within to place itself in the discussion and remake itself, remake lexicon, tone, the range of the imagination itself. For these reasons I recommend these poems of Ubaldo de Robertis... where one finds oneself linked in an extraordinary affinity...

"... It seems clear to me that the works of Ubaldo de Robertis are composed in free verse with a 'dominant tone' in mind, given that the meter offers today's poet maximum freedom of internal movement in word choice, without being bound to any rules other than that of 'tone'... The secret of these poems is the dominant 'tone.'"

~ Giorgio Linguaglossa

About Diomedee

"Lean, varied, existential, flexible poetry, telling us of life, the reality of being and of existing with a pronounced personalization of human vicissitude. And the verse flows fluidly or rattenuto to accompany the vibrations of a listening intent on 'un aveu' of great emotional intensity.

~ Nazario Pardini





Selections from
The Rings of the Universe



Poet Ubaldo de Robertis


From I quaderni dell'ussero / Notebooks from the Ussero


Chiedersi come...
l'aggirarsi di nuvole
possa togliere visibilità
alle montagne
occultarne il profilo
avvolgerle come forma del tutto
che cessa di mostrarsi
allo sgurardo
spiraglio che si apre
sul mondo
Le cose finite
non appaiono
in questo ritorno nel nulla
in questo non essere più
Al loro dileguarsi io brindo
fino... all'annichilmento

Removing the Veil

Ask yourself...
how the slow
drifting of clouds
can take away
of mountains
conceal their unchangeable
cover them like forms of every thing
that stops showing itself
to be seen
through a vent that opens
onto the world
In this return to nothing
in this no longer being
finite things
do not appear
To their dispersal I raise a glass
all the way to... annihilation

From Parti del discorso (poetico)
/ Parts of the (Poetic) Discourse


Nel breve periodo tutte erano in vita.
Non vive veramente.
Vive nell'indifferenza.
A nessuno veniva in mente di dar loro un nome.
Sconosciute anche a se stesse.
E nemmeno inducevano alla tenerezza.
E non sapevano fino a quando avrebbero goduto
del beneficio di esistere.
Poi le cose sono accadute.
E non hanno fatto in tempo ad echeggiare,
prima di franare nell'oblio
E non ci vuole tanta scaltrezza per indovinare
in quale alba erano nate, e quale notte le ha lasciate
affondare fra le fredde fessure della terra.

Continui ad illuderti sino alla fine, sedotto dall'essere
un nume o un cigno, che incruento sia il tragitto,
spietato, verso il nulla.


For a short time they were all living.
Not really living.
Living in indifference.
It didn't occur to anyone to give names.
Each was unknown even to itself.
And they didn't even arouse compassion.
And they didn't know how long they would enjoy
the benefits of existing.
Then things happened.
And the bells didn't go off in time
before their landslide into oblivion.
And you don't have to be clever to guess
which dawn they were born into, and which night let them
fall between the earth's cold crevices.

You keep deluding yourself right to the end, seduced by being
a deity or a swan, that the crossing is going to be bloodless,
with no mercy, toward nothingness.


Giace sull'arenile l'amuleto
carpito alla roccia madre.
Libero, a suo senno, potrà incendiare
il cielo, ardere le foreste, proteggere l'amore
armonizzante. Più di quante virtù vanta il monile,
più grazioso, attraente, il collo della donna
che indossa l'ambra gialla.
Splende, al confronto, la sua supremazia,
avvincente, sensuale, voluttuosa,
abile a destreggiarsi, troppo pericolosa
per uomini vulnerabili, docili, arrendevoli,
come me.


Wrested from mother rock
the amulet lies upon the shore.
Free by his own will, it can set the sky
on fire, set forests ablaze, protecting harmonizing
love. The necklace shows off the virtues above and beyond
of a neck beyond delicate, beyond attractive, of the woman
who wears the yellow amber.
Her absorbing, sensual, voluptuous
superiority, by comparison, shines,
capable of maneuvering, much too dangerous,
for vulnerable, docile, malleable men,
like me.


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