Delio Tessa

Delio Tessa (18 November 1886 – 21 September 1939) was an Italian poet from Milan. He is the most renowned writer in Milanese dialect after Carlo Porta. The originality of his poetry stands mostly in his expressionism and his satirical (both sad an ironical) way to depict Death. His masterpiece is L'è el dì di Mort, alegher! ("It's the day of the Dead, be happy!", a collection of his lyrics, 1932). Stylistically, he uses massively "enjambements" and parentheticals; he mixes Milanese dialect (a dialect of Western Lombard language spoken in the city and in the Hinterland) with Italian and foreign languages such as French and English, making them rhyme, too.

A marble gravestone on the wall of a crypt
Tessa's grave at the Monumental Cemetery of Milan, Italy

An antifascist, he remained aloof from official culture, devoting himself to local sphere. Except the collection of poems L'è el dì di mort, alegher!, all his works have been published posthumously. The topics of his poetics are the drama of the World War I and of the daily life of neglects, revised in personal way and caring very much about the sonority of the lines. Often the topic of the dead women is present, with a pessimism and distrust of personal and cultural origin (Scapigliatura, decadentism, Russian novel, expressionism). The restlessness is reflected in the tension of the language, used like strongly fragmented popular language.

Tessa died in 1939 of abscess, and was buried, according to his will, in a common field of Musocco. However, in 1950 Milan City Council transferred his body to the city's Monumental Cemetery, where other eminent Milanese people lie.


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