Umberto Saba

Infobox Writer
name =Umberto Saba (Poli)

caption =
birthdate = birth date|1883|3|9|df=y
birthplace = Trieste, Italy1
deathdate = death date and age|1957|8|26|1883|3|9|df=y
deathplace = Gorizia, Italy
occupation = Novelist, Poet
genre =
movement = Crepuscolarismo
influences =
influenced =
website =

Umberto Saba (March 9, 1883 - August 26, 1957) was the pseudonym of Italian poet and novelist Umberto Poli. His creative work was hampered by a life-long struggle with mental illness.

Childhood and education

Saba was born in Trieste, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He had Italian citizenship through his father. His mother was Jewish. His father abandoned the family before Umberto was born, and his mother employed a Slovene nanny, Peppa Sabaz, to raise him. He became very attached to her, and revered her memory in his poetry.

From 1903-1904, he attended the University of Pisa, where he studied archaeology, German, and Latin. In was in this period that he began to complain of a nervous disorder, which was to become more severe with time.


Quitting school, Saba worked for a time as an apprentice and was a cabin-boy on a merchant ship. From 1907-1908 he served in the military in Salerno. He married Carolina Wölfler in 1909, and they had a daughter, Lina, the following year.


It was in 1910 that Poli adopted the "nom de plume" Saba. The origin of this name is not sure; however, it has been attributed as being in homage to his Slovene childhood nanny, Peppa Sabaz, and also as a nod towards his Jewish origins, as "saba' " ( _he. סבא) means "grandfather" or "elder" in Hebrew. In 1911, he went to Florence, where he published his first volume of poetry and used his new name as author. The following year found him in Bologna, where he continued to write poetry, publishing in newspapers and magazines. His first efforts were coldly received by critics. Saba served in the army from 1915-1918, but was never sent to the front.

In 1919 he returned to Trieste and purchased an antiquarian bookstore, the "Ancient and Modern Bookstore." The business produced enough income to support him and his family. He self-published the first edition of his "Songbook" in 1921 (successive, enlarged editions followed, and eventually it grew to contain over four hundred poems, spanning fifty years).


By 1928, Saba was suffering from depression, and frequently contemplated suicide. A friend advised psychoanalysis, which he began the following year.

In 1938, he was forced to sell his bookstore to a friend and "disappear", due to the adoption of racial laws by Fascist Italy . He frequently moved, and fled clandestinely to Paris for a brief period, and to Florence soon thereafter, where he hid in an attic, and then, in 1939, to Rome, where he hid in the home of fellow-poet Giuseppe Ungaretti.

The first great critical acclaim of Saba's work was the 1946 award of the Viareggio Prize. His stature continued to grow and, in 1953 he received an award from the Lincean Academy, and two honorary degrees from the University of Rome.

Saba's mental state declined from 1950 on. He spent long periods in clinics, and began to use morphine. He died at the age of 74 in Gorizia, nine months after a heart attack, and a year after the death of his wife.

List of works

*"Poems" (1911)
*"With My Eyes" (1912)
*"What Remains for Poets To Do" (1912)
*"Songbook" (1921)
*"Prelude and Songs" (1923)
*"Autobiography" (1924)
*"The Prisoners" 1924
*"Figures and Songs" (1926)
*"Prelude and Flight" (1928)
*"Words" (1934)
*"Last Things" (1944)
*"Mediterranean" (1947)
*"Birds - Nearly a Story" (1951)
*"Ernesto" (1953)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Umberto Saba — Umberto Poli (Trieste, 9 de marzo de 1883 Gorizia, 25 de agosto de 1957), Umberto Saba, poeta y novelista italiano. Considerado dentro del hermetismo en sus primeros libros, inaugura posteriormente una línea poética alternativa, ajena a la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Umberto Saba — Statue von Umberto Saba in Triest Umberto Saba, eigentlich Umberto Poli (* 9. März 1883 in Triest; † 25. August 1957 in Gorizia) war ein italienischer Dichter und Schriftsteller …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Umberto Saba — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Saba (homonymie). Pour les articles homonymes, voir Poli. Umberto Saba, pseudonyme d Umberto Poli, né le 9 mars 1883 à Trieste alors sous l Empire austro hongrois et mort le 25 août 1957 à …   Wikipédia en Français

  • SABA (U.) — Umberto Saba, s’il est reconnu comme l’un des plus grands poètes de son pays, fut longtemps un mal aimé de la culture italienne ; il est encore très mal connu en France. Sa production considérable, dont la correspondance éditée chez Mondadori,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Umberto Poli — Umberto Saba, eigentlich Umberto Poli (* 9. März 1883 in Triest; † 25. August 1957 in Gorizia) war ein italienischer Dichter und Schriftsteller. Leben Saba verlebte eine unglückliche Kindheit, überschattet von der Abwesenheit des Vaters, der die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • SABA, UMBERTO — (pseudonym of Umberto Poli; 1883–1957), Italian poet. Saba s mother, a niece of , was abandoned by her Catholic husband before the birth of her son, and some scholars have argued that he adopted the Hebrew surname Saba ( grandfather ) as a… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Saba — steht für: eine riesenhafte Sagengestalt, die auf der Sababurg gewohnt haben soll eine Insel in der Karibik, siehe Saba (Insel) ein antikes Reich im heutigen Jemen, siehe Saba (Antike) einen Subdistrikt (mukim) in Brunei, siehe Saba (Brunei) eine …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Saba (disambiguation) — Saba may refer to:;People (real fictional) * Saba (pronounced Sava) or Sabbas the Goth, a 4th century martyr * Abraham Saba, a 15th century Jewish rabbi * Umberto Saba, a 20th century Italian poet and novelist * Abolhasan Saba, a 20th century… …   Wikipedia

  • Saba (desambiguación) — Saba puede referirse: al antiguo Reino de Saba, en el Medio Oriente. a Saba, región de la península Arábiga que da nombre a la religión sabeísta. a la isla caribeña de Saba. a la ciudad israelí de Kfar Saba. al escritor italiano Umberto Saba. a… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Saba (homonymie) — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour les articles homophones, voir Sabbat et Sabah. Saba est un nom propre, ou un nom commun en langues africaines, qui peut se référer à  …   Wikipédia en Français

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