A quote, a poem (3): Leopardi, «L’infinito»

After Borges’ paradisiac library and Prevert’s comment on the stupidity of war, it is Giacomo Leopardi‘s (1798-1837) turn to complete the short series of posts devoted to quotes from French, Italian and Spanish poems.

Difficult task, though, to choose from such a relatively short poem, mostly because L’infinito (1819) is also one of my favourite ones, both in terms of mood – «Così tra questa / immensità s’annega il pensier mio: / e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare» («So my mind sinks in this immensity: / and foundering is sweet in such a sea») – and of images: «E come il vento / odo stormir tra queste piante» («And when I hear / the wind stir in these branches»). The poem follows in its entirety here below (picture is from Meridiani Mondadori’s 1987 volume of Leopardi’s Poesie, available at the UvA-Library).

Interested in Leopardi and/or the challenges of translating his work? Visit the website of the Centro Nazionale di studi Leopardiani (full-text of Leopardi’s oeuvre available) or check Amemdeo Quondam’s Viaggi nel testo – mentioned earlier on this blog – for extensive introductory texts to the Italian poet’s life and work.

Or take a look at Poet of Problems: Introduction to Leopardi’s Canti, written for Poetry Daily by Jonathan Galassi, from whose English translation I quoted above. Or read Jean-Charles Vegliante’s (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3) Tradurre (a) l’infinito, available via the website of the University of Birmingham’s Leopardi Centre, «one of three world-wide ‘cattedre leopardiane’ set up by the Centro Nazionale di Studi Leopardiani in the year of Leopardi’s bicentenary in 1998 as part of its ‘Leopardi nel mondo’ project».

Leopardi bis
«Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,
E questa siepe, che da tanta parte
Dell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.
Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati
Spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani
Silenzi, e profondissima quiete
Io nel pensier mi fingo; ove per poco
Il cor non si spaura. E come il vento
Odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello
Infinito silenzio a questa voce
Vo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,
E le morte stagioni, e la presente
E viva, e il suon di lei. Così tra questa
Immensità s’annega il pensier mio:
E il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare».

About blognostrumuva

blog voor de Collectie Romaanse Talen van de Universiteitsbibliotheek van de UvA (universiteit van Amsterdam)
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