Govoni, Corrado 1884–1965

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Govoni, Corrado 1884–1965

PERSONAL: Born October 29, 1884, in Tamara, Ferrara, Italy; died October 21, 1965, in Anzio, Italy; children: Aladino.

CAREER: Poet. Secretary for S.I.A.E. (Italian union of authors and publishers), 1928–43; records keeper in a ministerial office, beginning 1943. Military service: Italian army; served during World War I.


Le fiale (title means "The Phials"), Lumachi (Florence, Italy), 1903.

Armonia in grigio et in silenzio (title means "Harmony in Gray and in Silence"), Lumachi (Florence, Italy), 1903, with a postscript by Laura Barile, Libri Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1989.

Fuochi d'artifizio, Ganguzza Lajosa (Palermo, Italy), 1905.

Gli aborti; le poesie d'Arlecchino; I cenci dell'anima, Taddei-Soati (Ferrara, Italy), 1907.

Poesie elettriche, Futuriste di Poesia (Milan, Italy), 1911.

La neve: poema drammatico moderno, Libreria della Voce (Florence, Italy), 1914.

Rarefazioni e parole in libertà, Futuriste di Poesia (Milan, Italy), 1915.

L'inaugurazione della primavera, Libreria della Voce (Florence, Italy), 1915.

Poesie scelte, 1903–1918, Taddei (Ferrara, Italy), 1918, revised and enlarged edition, 1920.

La santa verde, Taddei (Ferrara, Italy), 1919.

Ugo Martelli, ossia il primo incontro dell'uomo del bosco, Taddei (Ferrara, Italy), 1919.

Tre grani da seminare, Palmer (Milan, Italy), 1920.

Anche l'ombra è sole, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1921.

La terra contro il cielo, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1921.

Piccolo veleno color di rosa, Bemporad (Florence, Italy), 1921.

La strada sull'acqua, Treves (Milan, Italy), 1923.

Il quaderno dei sogni e delle stelle, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1924.

Brindisi alla notte, Bottega di Poesia (Milan, Italy), 1924.

La cicala e la formica, Bottega di Poesia (Milan, Italy), 1925.

Il volo d'amore, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1926.

Bomboniera, Sapientia (Rome, Italy), 1929.

La maschera che piange, Novissima (Florence, Italy), 1930.

Misirizzi, Vallecchi (Florence, Italy), 1930.

Il flauto magico, Tempo della Fortuna (Rome, Italy), 1932.

I racconti della ghiandaia, Carabba (Lanciano, Italy), 1932.

Canzoni a bocca chiusa, Vallecchi (Florence, Italy), 1938.

Poema di Mussolini, Cuggiani (Rome, Italy), 1938.

Il pane degli angeli: commedia in cinque atti e un prologo, Clet (Naples, Italy), 1940.

Le rovine del paradiso, Vallecchi (Florence, Italy), 1941.

Pellegrino d'amore, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1941.

Confessione davanti allo specchio, Morcelliana (Brescia, Italy), 1942.

Govonigiotto, S.T.E.L.I. (Milan, Italy), 1943.

La fossa carnala ardeatinam, Movimento Comunista d'Italia (Rome, Italy), 1944.

Aladino, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1946, reprinted, Maurizio (Rome, Italy), 1997.

L'Italia odia i poeti, Pagine Nuove (Rome, Italy), 1950.

Antologia poetica (1903–1953), edited by Giacinto Spagnoletti, Sansoni (Florence, Italy), 1953.

Patria d'alto volo, Maia (Siena, Italy), 1953.

Preghiera al trifoglia (title means "Prayer to the Clover"), Casini (Rome, Italy), 1953.

Manoscritto nella bottiglia, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1954.

Stradario della primavera, Neri Pozza (Venice, Italy), 1958.

Uomini sul delta, Ceschina (Milan, Italy), 1960.

Poesie 1903–1959, edited by Giuseppe Ravegnani, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1961.

La ronda di notte, edited by Enrico Falqui, Ceschina (Milan, Italy), 1966.

Teatro, introduction by Mario Verdone, Bulzoni (Rome, Italy), 1984.

(With Ugo Martelli and Felice Lattuada) Il libro del bambino, Bolis (Bergamo, Italy), 1985.

Lettere a F.T. Marinetti (1909–1915), edited by Matilde Dillon Wanke, Libri Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1990.

Poesie (1903–1958), edited by Gino Tellini, Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 2000.

Contributor to Elogio della piamura, Comune (Copparo, Italy), 1972. Poetry has been published in numerous periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS: Corrado Govoni was an Italian poet whose work emphasized "the minutiae of daily life," according to Joseph E. Germano in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Govoni has been considered a member both of the crepuscolari, or "twilight poets," and of the futurist movement. Germano cited Govoni's "imaginativeness, his complex handling of previous influences … and his quiet acceptance and adoption of varied subjects" as notable features of his poetry.

Govoni was born in 1884 in the small town of Tamara, Italy. He came from a family of wealthy millers and farmers, and, according to Germano, he once said, "Had I stayed in my hometown, and had my highest level of public school education been limited to third grade, I would most likely have become one of the most prosperous millers and farmers of the Po River basin." Instead, he was sent to a private school at the age of eleven, and the strict religious education there helped him develop his poetic gifts. He also had a sensitive temperament that perhaps fueled his art. According to Germano, he wrote to poet Gian Pietro Lucini in 1904, saying, "I have always loved sad things, strolling music, love songs sung by old men in the taverns, the nuns' prayers, the beggars colorfully ragged and sick, invalids, melancholy autumns full of farewells … all the sad things of love, the sad things of work, the sad things of trifles." These melancholy details exemplify the themes of the crepuscolari.

As a young man, Govoni went to Florence, where he met poet Giovanni Papini, who helped him publish his first volume of poems, Le fiale, in 1903. The same publisher produced his second volume later that year. According to Germano, the poems in Le fiale are characterized by "detailed craftsmanship, exotic images, difficult and rare rhymes, and unusual lexicon interspersed with archaic vocabulary." These features were drawn from Govoni's exposure to other poets whom he admired, but the poems also contain his own innovations: "a certain realism … the very simple image," and various technical features of line and meter. They established a break between Govoni's poetic antecedents and the poetry of the twentieth century. As Germano commented, "Govoni became the example to follow for several years."

Govoni's wide range of styles allowed him to have his work published in a variety of literary journals, some of which had very different poetic philosophies. However, by 1914 he was regarded to be a futurist poet, and his success encouraged him to sell his inherited land in Tamara and move to Milan, the center of the futurism movement. Although he was associated with the futurists, he never fully identified with any literary movement. He did not like historical or epic poetry, preferring refined poetry that imparted strong emotion to the reader. However, his association with the futurists allowed him to shed some outdated techniques he had been using in his poetry.

In 1917 Govoni was inducted into the Italian military, and he fought in World War I. After the war he worked at a variety of jobs before traveling to Rome to work for the S.I.A.E, the Italian labor union of writers and publishers. He was secretary of the union from 1928 until 1943. In 1944 his only son, Aladino, was killed while fighting with the Italian Resistance. Govino expressed his grief in an entire book of elegies, Aladino, in which he reminisces about his son's life. In his 1953 collection Preghiera al trifoglia, Govoni expresses love for nature, but it is a nature as seen through his continuing grief for his son.

After World War II, Govoni worked until retirement as records keeper in a ministerial office. He spent his last years in poor health in a small house in Lido dei Pini di Tor San Lorenzo, near Rome, and died in Anzio in 1965. Germano noted that perhaps "Govoni's most important contribution was that of opening new paths to other poets unselfishly; his poetry, rich with innovations and new themes, provided new ideas to countless poets, some of them major poets of this century."



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 114: Twentieth-Century Italian Poets, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.


Osservatore Politico Letterario, Volume 16, 1970, "Lettre di Govoni," pp. 73-82.

Rassegna della Letteratura, September-December, 1974, Anna Folli, "Il Laboratorio Poetico," pp. 437-455; July-August, 1977, Anna Folli, "Moretti da Pascoli," pp. 90-102; January, 1990, Luigi Blasucci, "Montale, Govoni e l''Oggetto Povero,'" pp. 43-63.

Trimestre, June, 1981, "La Metrica," pp. 241-260.

Veitro, May, 1987, "Sttruttura e Metafora," pp. 359-365.

Verri, March 1, 1991, "Idea Della Poesia," pp. 43-74.

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Govoni, Corrado 1884–1965

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