Alda Merini is an Italian poet who was born in Milan in 1931. She sparked interest in reading and writing at a very young age. Her father encouraged her and published a booklet of her poems when she was ten. She went to elementary school and made great grades but her family didn’t have money to further her education so she attended vocational school but was unable to get into high school since she didn’t pass the Italian exam.
Alda continued to write poems, devoting herself to it at the age of 15. Giacinto Spagnoletti discovered her poetic talent and invited her into his circle of poets and critics which kicked off her career. She was published in Spagnoletti’s anthology in 1950. She then published her first book, La presenza di Orfeo, in 1953. In 1961 she stopped writing due to mental illness. She was committed to an asylum. She centered much of her poetry about her time in mental institutions dealing with her mental illness as well as the dramatic experiences in the institutions. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize twice and she was awarded the Librex-Guggenheim Eugenio Montale Prize as well as the Premio Viareggio.
Alda Merini focused on love in her earlier works and in her later works, illnesss, nature, and myth. A few of her poems and books include:
- Fiore di poesia
- La terra santa
- La presenza di Orfeo
- La pazza della porta accanto
- Uomini miei
- Magnificat: Un incontro con Maria
- Le madri non cercano il paradiso
“ We are hungry for tenderness,
in a world where everything abounds
we are poor of this feeling
which is like a caress
for our heart
we need these small gestures
that make us feel good
is a disinterested and generous love,
that does not ask anything else
to be understood and appreciated.”
“Il dolore non è altro che la sorpresa di non conoscerci.”
“When I raise a toast to madness, I toast myself as well.”
She made significant contributions to Italian poetry and many of her works have been translated and admired in other countries as well. She passed in 2009 from cancer. Her works and words still continue to flourish and inspire many.