The Joy of Shipwrecks

The Joy of Shipwrecks


  • Instrumentation: solo harp
  • Duration: 5"
  • Year: 2015
  • I. Half Asleep
  • II. Nostalgia
  • III. The Rivers

These short pieces are reflections on three poems by Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888–1970) written whilst the poet fought in the trenches of the Italian front during the First World War. Each piece reflects on the imagery, mood, and autobiography of these remarkable but fragmentary poems. The title, borrowed from Ungaretti’s second collection, stands, in the poet’s words, for the “exultation that the moment gives, as it happens, because it is fleeting; the moment that only love can wrench from time”.

  • I. Half Asleep: I am witnessing the violation of the night*
  • II. Nostalgia: Over Paris there thickens / a sombre colour / of grief
  • III. The Rivers: These are my rivers / numbered in the Isonzo… my life appears / a corolla / of darkness

*These extracts from the poems are translated by Heather Scott.


The audioplayer is AWOL.

Performance history

  • 20th March 2015, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh; Nana Sotirova.