"I am starting Il Porto Sepolto (The Buried Harbour) on my first day in the trench, Christmas Day of 1915, and on this day I am on Mount San Michele on the Karst. I spent the night lying in the mud, facing the enemy that was just a little above us and one hundred times better armed that we are. The fights lasted one year. The Il Porto Sepolto contains the experience of that particular year.".

Giuseppe Ungaretti was called up in the army and as a private of the 19th Infantry Regiment sent in a trench on the Karst in 1915. He was 27 years old at that time.
The poet recounts: "The soldier who treaded the streets of Versa, with his thoughts roaming, was approached by a man from Trentino: I didn't have the courage not to confide in the young lieutenant who had asked my name, and told him that I had no other comfort than seeking and finding myself in words, which was my manner of progressing as a human being". He showed his poems, written on "scrap pieces of paper, envelopes, military duty-free postcards, cuttings from newspapers" to Lieutenant Ettore Serra, who decided to have them published in a collection by a printing house in Udine, in December 1916, producing eighty copies.
San Michele, San Martino, Bosco Cappuccio, Hill 141, Valloncello di Cima 4, Versa, Mariano, ... were some of the places where the verses that would reveal one of the greatest and most appreciated contemporary poets, were written.

Ungaretti would later admit to his affectionate friend an authoritative critic and biographer: "I was amidst death, amidst nature, an environment that I was learning to understand in a new manner, a terrible manner. Since I prove to be a man who makes war, it is not the idea of killing or being killed that tortures me: I was a man who desired nothing else but a relationship with the absolute, the absolute, which was represented by death and not by the danger of the tragedy that led the man to face himself in the massacre. My poems do not contain any expression of hatred towards the enemy, or anyone else: there is the consciousness of the human condition, the fraternity between men when suffering, of the extreme precariousness of their condition. There is the desire to express, the need to express and there is also exaltation in the Il Porto Sepolto, an exaltation of the wild desire of life, of a hunger for staying alive, which is amplified by the daily encounter and confrontation with death. We live with contradiction".

That experienced and fought in the mud of the Karst trenches, stated the poet, "was one of the most stupid wars one could imagine, apart from the fact that wars are always stupid; but that one, was particularly stupid".

"The Karst is a society. It is a human society, tragic, a war-thirsty society, but nevertheless a human society... I met the other men on the Karst, the encounter occurred in a moment of humility, of desperation, of honour and the need for help, a moment where you are united by a great sufferance. The sense of unity within sufferance... Just as brothers, I have always felt people as brothers, and this since I was a child; that was my nature, but - I tell you - that on the Karst, brotherhood becomes the recurrent theme, it becomes an obsession, it becomes the truth".

"Being amidst death, amidst the dead, there was no time: one had to express firm, absolute words, and so the need to express oneself with just a few words, to cleanse, to say only what was to be said, therefore, a language and style that is stripped-down, bear, extremely expressive... I saw a scene of utter desolation, where there was nothing; it was like a desert: there was mud and then the rocks...!! Mud, the mud of the Karst, one of the most horrible things you can imagine: the mud was smooth, red, it was slick and it stuck everywhere. I slipped and fell in that mud so many times: I was full of mud, covered in mud…

In May 1966, fifty years after the publication of The Buried Port, Ungaretti returned on the Karst of Sagrado: “Yesterday I went along the Karst again. What was a heap of stones covered with blood colored rust to the fearful and lost soldiers, who had to cross the area trying to avoid bullets, is now a green and blooming area. It is incredibile. Nowadays, the Karst appears flourishing. I thought: Well, the Karst is not the hell anymore. And as I thought, it now shows the green of hope and has become a peaceful place of poetry. It is inviting for those, whose aim is spreading poetry, faith and love”.

Among the stones and in the mug of the Karst during the years of war, Ungaretti tried to find (and eventually found) the right words. He has never used any literary or pompous word, on the contrary his words were isolated and taken from the daily usage. Ungaretti let words vibe as if they were pronounced for the first time, as Carlo Ossola underlined. He wrote bare but immortal poems, his poetry has deeply renewed the literature of the XXth century and evokes, as Leone Piccioni remarks, “those secrets, which remain obscure in all of us. It is about something, which goes beyond the origins of mankind, it is the buried port we can experience every time the poet comes back to the light”
On the silent, flourishing and peaceful Karst of today, a place that has become a peaceful place to promote poetry, faith and love, we would like you to look for “your” buried port, also thanks to the wonderful verse of Ungaretti we read in the park of Castelnuovo in Sagrado. We would also like you to find the green of hope together with the poet and keeping in mind other people’s opinions.

Gianfranco Trombetta

Il Parco - Ungaretti

Il Parco - Ungaretti

Il Parco - Ungaretti