Umberto Saba cultivated poetic individuality to such a paradoxical extreme that his poems often read as though written by an anonymous author. Aspiring to be simply a man among men, he yet found himself lapped in continual ripples of singularity. Perhaps this was one reason why, in Stephen Sartarellis new translation, he could speak of
a sudden yearning to be outside
of myself, to live the life
to be like every
In actuality, Saba was a Jew married to an Aryan wife in a Catholic country; menaced by both fascists and Nazis, he remained in Italy, often in hiding, through- out the war years. He was a homosexual who reveled in and celebrated conventional married life. A city dweller to his fingertips, he loved the country and ...