Friday, 5 December 2014

Il Giovane favoloso, Giacomo Leopardi

Yesterday I went to see a film called ' Il Giovane Favoloso' about the life of the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837). He is probably the best loved Italian poet after Dante.
My first language or mother tongue is English and so when I read poetry in English it goes straight to my heart, whereas in Italian it has to travel through my head first, so I tend to give you poems by English speaking poets. Watching the film about Leopardi though there was a moment when the narrator's voice seemed to caress the cinema audience. It resounded round the room and went straight to my heart.

Dolce e Chiara è la notte e senza vento
e queta sovra i tetti e in mezzo agli orti
posa la luna, e di lontan rivela
serena ogni montagna.

The night is sweet and clear, without a breeze
and the moon rests in the gardens
calm on the roofs, and reveals, clear
far off, every mountain.

These are the first lines of the poem, The evening of the holiday, La sera del di di festa.

Giacomo Leopardi was born in the Marche region of Italy. The film showed him to have a happy childhood with a loving relationship with his brother and sister. He wasn't very healthy and spent a lot of time indoors, studying hard and looking at a young girl called Silvia who lived opposite him .He wrote a famous poem dedicated to her called.. Silvia.

Silvia, do you remember
those moments, in your mortal life
when beauty still shone
in your sidelong ,laughing eyes
and you,light and thoughtful
leapt beyond girlhood's limits?

Leopardi wrote down everything he thought. Basically he was a pessimist and thought that because we live in a material world we will always be dissatisfied. He thought that the more primitive a person is the happier they will be. The doctor told him to eat fish and vegetables and to avoid cakes and ice cream. He couldn't resist ice-cream though and reminded me of my dad, sneaking of to have one when no-one was looking.

The ideal blog post is meant to be no more than 250 words, so I'm over the limit, but I'm going to write down two more verses that I really like and express all those lovely feelings that can be had in the countryside and looking at the stars.

Alla luna, To the Moon

o lovely moon, now I'm reminded
how almost a year since, full of anguish
I climbed this hill to gaze at you again
And you hung there, over that wood as now
Clarifying all things.


Always dear to me was this solitary hill
and this hedge, which from so many parts
of the far horizon, the sight excludes

Sempre caro mi fu quest'ermo colle
e questa siepe, che da tanta parte
dell'ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.

This is just a taste of his poems, just the first few lines to give you an idea of his brilliance. The film portrayed him very sympathetically and the actor Elio Germano was excellent in the role of Leopardi. There were lovely shots of his childhood home, of Florence and Naples and even Vesuvius erupting.
I hope this has made you want to read more of his lovely poetry in Italian or in your own language.

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