Longfellow as Translator

HWL. "Enc├Ędalo," in Angelo Messedaglia, trans., Alcune Poesie di Enrico W. Longfellow (Padova: D. Prosperini, 1866).

Photograph

*AC85.L8605.Ei866m, page 2. Houghton Library.

Angelo Messedaglia, an economist and member of the Italian House of Delegates, radicalizes the ending of Longfellow's "Enceladus," a poem written to benefit the Italian independence movement. The central figure is the giant Encelados, buried under Mount Etna for his insubordination against the Olympians and now rebelling, like Italy itself, against his chains. Messedaglia cheerfully replaces the concise exclamation that ends Longfellow's poem ("Enceladus, arise!") with an unabashedly interpretive statement, in which the speaker tells the giant that his hour has finally come.

Messedaglia sent the copy displayed here to Longfellow, with the inscription: "All' Grande Poeta dell' America Omaggio del suo Traduttore A. Messedaglia" (To the Great American Poet with the respects of his translator A. Messedaglia), along with a letter in which he fulsomely praised Longfellow's Dante translation (7 June 1867).