Hermeticism was an Italian poetry movement which developed in the 1920s and 1930s in the wake of Modernism. Apparently obscure and hard to interpret, Hermetic poetry was constructed as a riddle, displaying the only words that needed to be there to convey feelings, emotions, projections. It did not seek to be interpreted in any way, as it was created as an absolute condensation of the feelings of the modern man who experiences solitude, uncertainties and sometimes desperation.
Giuseppe Ungaretti was the first exponent of this movement. The new approach to poetry was set in motion with the release of “Il porto sepolto” (“The Buried Harbour“, 1917-1923), where the poet got rid of syntax, structure and punctuation and displayed a real connection and influence with the French Symbolists. A more complex, richer meaning is given to his collection “Sentimento del tempo” (“The Feeling of Time“, 1933), with its elaborated analogies but with a more traditional approach in terms of poetic structure, as punctuation reappears and the whole project is labelled as ‘baroque‘ by Ungaretti himself. : one can thus consider Ungaretti as Hermeticism’s first exponent. Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodois another major exponent of this movement: the collection “Erato e Apollion” (“Erato And Apollion“, 1936) is the embodiment of his contribution to Hermeticism: Greek myths as Apollo, Ulysses and muses are presented through analogies and a lack of connection between words. il poeta raggiunge la piena e personale maturità espressiva. The distinctive trait of these poems is the absence, represented by blank spaces, and a too frequent use of indefinite articles. His most popular poem is “Ed è subito sera” (“And Suddenly It Is Evening“). With three short and free verses, he spoke of life on earth:
Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world
pierced by a ray of sunlight,
and suddenly it is evening.
But what appears to have been induced by mass communication in time of dictatorships, could today come back as a form of poetry that is needed for other reasons, to respond to new needs in society.
Texts, in particular, as well as Tweets are today forcing people to condense their meanings into a very strict number of characters. This need has somehow proved to be intriguing the literary world aswell. A resurgence of short poetry, including the Japanese form of “Haiku” is now more popular than ever.