(10 February 1888 – 2 June 1970) was an Italian modernist poet, journalist, essayist, critic, academic, and recipient of the inaugural 1970 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. A leading representative of the experimental trend known as Ermetismo (“Hermeticism”), he was one of the most prominent contributors to 20th century Italian literature. Influenced by symbolism, he was briefly aligned with futurism. Like many futurists, he took an irredentist position during World War I. Ungaretti debuted as a poet while fighting in the trenches, publishing one of his best-known pieces, L’allegria (“The Joy”).
Upon the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Ungaretti, like his Futurist friends, supported an irredentist position, and called for his country’s intervention on the side of the Entente Powers. Enrolled in the infantry a year later, he saw action on the Northern Italian theater, serving in the trenches. In contrast to his early enthusiasm, he became appalled by the realities of war. The conflict also made Ungaretti discover his talent as a poet, and, in 1917, he published the volume of free verse Il porto sepolto (“The Buried Port”), largely written on the Kras front. Although depicting the hardships of war life, his celebrated L’Allegria was not unenthusiastic about its purpose (even if in the poem “Fratelli”, and in others, he describes the absurdity of the war and the brotherhood between all the men); this made Ungaretti’s stance contrast with that of Lost Generation writers, who questioned their countries’ intents, and similar to that of Italian intellectuals such as Soffici, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Piero Jahier and Curzio Malaparte.