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It was a Saturday, the most beautiful day of the seven: and I went out “in the setting of the sun” from the gate of Monte Morello to the hill called Monte Tabor. Of the spring, however, irresolute I had already seen in the morning, coming from the Port to the city of Recanati, to raise the land two signs among the pallor of the olive trees; a candid, a rosy, of an almond tree and a peach tree. And in the brave and the greppi I saw now the daisies close again for the nocturnal eve the faded petals of pink that had appeared in the day (white-haired brides tinged with redness at the blossoming of the star); while I adored the footsteps of the poet, leaving behind me the “plaza” full of the “happy noise” of the children and going to the “ermo colle” [68] he had felt in the soul the “interminated spaces” and the “superhumans” silences. ” The hill is no longer that, having been partly cut to give rise to a new road, and planted and cleaned and combed to become a public garden, the Pincio; but “ermo” was also that Saturday evening. And shouts of children could be heard, happy for the feast of tomorrow; but here and there, from afar; and they just veered the taciturnity of the sunset. A peasant came back with his spade on his shoulder, his face wrinkled in the glare of the sun. An old woman returned with a small bundle of sticks on her head. Another one stopped against. They stood, blurring in a different and continuous sparkle, speaking in a faint sound of remote voices. They talked for a long time: they were shaking their heads. The “good time” seemed to have never known him.

“Donzellette” I did not see them coming from the country with their bundle of grass. Not yet the lupinella bleeding the fields. I would have liked to see their bouquet, if it was really “of roses and violets”. Roses and violets in the same country bouquet of a villanella, it seems to me that Leopardi could not have seen them. To this, March violets, to that, May rose, yes, he could; but that he had already seen one in the hands of the maiden, now that he saw the others, the Poet did not have to remember here. Because the Poet here represents to us things seen and heard in one day, even in an hour; and well represents them, as the Italian poets of his time and of the past did not usually do. And like these, so others; and in this it is his principal virtue, and I would add if it were not idle and boring about poetry to speak of glory, its chief glory. See and hear: another must not the poet. The poet is the harp that a soul breath, is the plate that a ray paints. Poetry is in things: a certain ether found in this more, in the less, in some yes, in others not. The poet alone knows him, but all men, then that he meant, recognize him. He presents the vision of what was under the eyes of everyone and that nobody saw. The eyes were perhaps distracted, or perhaps the thing could not be made visible except by the poet’s art. Which perceives, perhaps, I do not know which X-rays that illuminate him only the veiled appearance and the hidden essences. Now the Leopardi (I thought stopping to look at the mountains of Macerata, on which some clouds writhed in flame, as if in pain), the Leopardi this “little rose and violets” did not see that evening: he saw yes a bouquet of flowers, but did not tell us which ones; and it would have been good to let us know, and to say more precisely that with the sign of the bundle of grass, which season was that of the year. No: he did not tell us which flowers were those, because I suspect that those roses and violets are nothing but a trope, and they are not worth, though special, if not to mean a generic thing: flowers. And I felt that, in so new poetry, the poet so new fell into an error so common to Italian poetry before him: the error of indeterminacy, for which, by way of example, olive trees and cypresses are generalized. with the name of trees, the hyacinths and the rosolacci with that of flowers, the blackcaps and the hawks with that of birds. Error of indeterminacy that alternates with the other of the false, for which all the trees are reduced to beeches, all the flowers to roses or violets (rather roses and violets together, often united more in the sweetness of their sound than in the sweetness of their perfume), all the birds at nightingale. But they were not the nightingers those that I felt among the olive groves of the valley under; though the nightingale looked like three or four punctuated notes that promised, at any moment and always in vain, the breaking and melting of the melody: an eternal prelude. Those unsuccessful nightingale’s notes were of a beleaguer; and I could hear them from time to time give in those shrill puffs of anger or fear, which seem like small neighbors closed in a bird’s throat; I heard them, now here now, crawling their biting limes on a hard, hard ferruzzo.

How many times the Leopardi will have stopped to listen to those vespertine fights, fights on the hour to choose the best place to wait for you, with a paw up, the aurora! He loved “the brightest creatures of the world”, the solitary philosopher. Even in the eulogy that he wrote, he could not infuse the poetry he felt in what he called them “laughter”, in that touch and mobility for which he resembles them as children. What he says is too general, leaving that it is not all right. However much the philosopher’s assumption ought to oppose the poet’s feeling in that praise, we wish you the particular why the induction of the philosopher is legitimate and the poet’s exposition is alive. But not a species name: all birds, all songbirds. In this regard, there is not much variety in poems: in one he sings in the morning “the watchful swallow” and in the evening the “feeble nightingale”; and the “musico augel” in another sings the rebirth of the year and laments his old misfortunes “in the high leisure of the fields”; and in another it is “the song of colored augels” together with murmure de ‘faggi; and so on. Now from these and similar examples it could be inferred (I thought) that Leopardi was not that poet that everyone says, or because he did not capture that particular in which it is, so to speak, as in a special cell, the poetic effluvium of things or he did not catch it first. But the new and the alive abounds. And so he addressed me in his mind, as a pious man whispers an oration to detect a bad thought, the many places with which the poet of my youth, of the youth of all, aroused in me the new throb in recognizing old things. I thought about his nights. Here is a night tormented by the storm: suddenly no more lightning, no more thunders, no more wind: darkness and silence. Another: a dark night: the moon rises from the sea and lights up a battlefield still vibrating with the din of the day: the birds are asleep, and as soon as the roof of the hut is reddened, they will warble as usual. Yet another: an illuminated night: the moon sets, the thousand shadows disappear “and a Darkness the valley and the mountain imbruna”, and the carter salutes the last ray with a melancholy stornello. Oh! the songs and the nocturnal noises! the child who can not sleep and hears a song “by the paths Leaving away little by little”, or, while he sighs in the morning, hears the sound of the hour, carried by the wind! Nobody in Italy, before and after Leopardi, represented so well the ecstasy of a summer night:


Which, tacitly, sitting in green clods,

I spent most of the nights

Aiming the sky, and listening to the song

Of the frog removes to the countryside!

And the firefly wandered off the hedges

And up the flower beds, whispering in the wind

The avenues odorati, and the cypresses

There in the forest: and under the patriotic roof

Sonavan alternate and quiet voices

Works of servants.

And no one better heard the poetry of a reawakening in the country than on the glass of the early morning rain; and no one expressed better the resumption of life after a storm: the shouting of hens, the cry of the yard, which had been put under cover, the noisy opening of the windows, which had been closed, and finally the tinkling of the rattles and the screeching of the wheels of a traveler who resumes his journey; and no one will ever say better the sensation of a woman’s song, heard at night, in a walk, inside a locked house, to which one stopped by chance; or by day, in the odorous May, mixed with the rhythmic noise of the calcole and the comb. A great poet, or beleaguered that you feel the assiduous screeching of your small files in this sweet Saturday evening! a great poet, though he may not have distinguished your rings from the spincionare of the chaffinch, to which they resemble! So I thought, and the sound of the hours came from the tower of the village, and I thought of the other tower, the ancient tower of the solitary Sparrow. It was right behind me. Spring shone in the air, though it still did not rejoice over the fields: a few bleating, some bellowing was heard: sparrows were jumping on the roof of the church of Sant’Agostino, which is now a prison; the belts always screeched. The solitary sparrow, however, no longer made a nest in the tower, whose “summit” was knocked down: they told me that I would later hear the sighs of an owl. Later: now the sun in front, making all the windows of the houses shine and burn

between distant mountains

Falling disappears, and so to speak

May the blessed youth fail.

The sun did not disappear so soon behind the Sanvicino: it was colored here in pale pink, there in pink, here in gold, there in violet, the clouds that seemed to be agreed to assist its descent. At a glance, that was discolored in slate, this colored purple. And it did not seem to me that the sun was saying, falling those sad words. Already with me they were too: but I remember that when I was not a young poet, but a young man, the sun always told me the sun, as you will say today to the young readers of Leopardi:

May the blessed youth fail.

The solitary sparrow says that it is the conception, if not work, of the early youth of the Poet: of the year 19 that was the richest of inspirations to him. It was conceived, in truth, when the poet no longer cared

solace and rice,

Novel sweet family age.

when he was no longer that playful child of which he himself narrates:

In these ancient rooms,

In the light of the snows, around these

Large windows hissing the wind,

Rejoice the ticklings and the festive ones

My voices at the time that the unripe, unworthy

Mystery of things is shown to us

Full of sweetness.

Giacomo enjoyed his Saturday, “day of full joy, clear day, clear”. His childhood passed, as his brother Carlo said, between games and somersaults and studies; but he went to a boarding school. Carlo praised his father “to have them kept close to him”; but certainly he kept them more as a rector than as a father. Monaldo believed he had received a very imperfect institution. “The excellent Torres,” he says, “was the murderer of my studies, and I did not succeed in a learned man, because he did not know how to study his pupil, and because his method of teaching was decidedly bad.” Now from the age of fourteen he had said to himself that having children would not allow anyone to rape them so barbarously. How did you keep your intent? In one thing in the meantime: in not sending his daughter Pauline to the monastery, as his sister had been sent to him, with whom and with his brother until he lived, he had spent his first years. He suffered a great deal from that distancing and did not want to give James and Charles the pain he had felt. Then: he will certainly have recommended to the preceptors who provided his children, not to be so pedantic as to demand from them the recitation of “complete books without the slightest error”. But the preceptors wanted them to be priests: Don Giuseppe Torres first (his master “of an intolerable severity”); then Don Sebastiano Sanchini. He also gave his children a pedagogue, who always accompanied them, “a pedantic vermilion, fat, flourishing”, Don Vincenzo Diotallevi, a good drinker. Those were the teachers or professors, this is the prefect; the rector, of course, was Monaldo. The games of the boys were what they also do today in the colleges a little old-fashioned; which I remember doing myself in the college of good Piarists, to whom I am grateful from the bottom of my heart: Roman battles. Meanwhile, Napoleon (Monaldo in 1797 could have seen him.) “He quickly passed on horseback, surrounded by guards holding rifles in his hand with the dog raised.The whole world ran to see him.I did not see him, because even though he was on his way into the municipal palace, I did not want to look out the window, judging not to have to that sadness the honor that a gentleman got up to see him “) while Napoleon fought at Austerlitz or Iena, the little Leopardi and the small cousins ​​Antici, were fighting in Canne or Zama , in the great hall, in the light of the snows, or in the garden; and Giacomo showed, under the name of Scipione or of Hannibal, that warlike ardor, which was then fulfilled in the 18th with the famous verses:

Arms, here weapons: me alone

I will fight, I will proclaim myself.

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They know of boarding the walks always made together and always with the prefect or pedagogue; The prank made to the good priest, which Giacomo described in the poem “the Dimenticanza”, knows of college; he knows of college that put on false names (James was Cleone, Carlo, Lucio, Paolina, Eurilla). It even tells of the novel read in secret … There were no exams and awards. “The three of us,” says Carlo, “older brothers, Giacomo, me and la Paolina, sometimes gave us almost public essays about our studies.” And from this life of continuous awe and uniform regularity came that need for the stories and stories that James told and Carlo listened to for a long time; and soon came that opposition of thoughts with their father, who in the colleges is used between pupils and superiors. James “honoring the parents did not intend to be a slave”. This in the times when he confessed, because “he was declared wicked by the priest”. The well-known conflict between father and son, which divided the Leopardi scholars into two factions, that of the Monaldiani and that of the Giacomiani, was born, or at least was made easy or possible, by this fact: that Giacomo, like his brothers, saw as a child in the father, the superior is the parent; and this attenuates the guilt of Monaldo, if he is of Monaldo, because he worked for a good purpose, yes of Giacomo, if he is of Giacomo, because he did not think he was doing so much badly. Over time, Charles praised his father and the severe education and education “perhaps better than that of the colleges”, as we praise now that good rector of whom we used to say so badly. Of course we would love or love our children in a different way; but it can not be said that Monaldo did not love them in his own way. Oh! he would have done better, I say, notwithstanding Carlo’s praises, to put them in a real school outside the house. In the sadness of solitude, which is so proud of it in the little cell after the noise of the day and the noise of the evening, they would be with their whole soul turned to the distant family. It seems absurd to say it; yet it is like this: to the poet of sorrow he lacked in his childhood, a little pain. Giacomo Leopardi, as a boy, did not have much pain!

I remember that I felt close to my heart when I arrived, at night, in the unconscious vigil, “the sound of the person”. It was the voice of the foreign city; not of the native village. And I was thinking of dad and mom. And Giacomo could not even run away from his father, run to his mother’s womb. She, completely occupied in restoring the Leopardi patrimony, did not caress her children with her gaze. If it was so sweet, as I know of another, as everyone knows, or almost, of one, it could suffice. But…

In the institution of Monaldo, it was above all a vice that he would be surprised to reproach. He cultivated the desire for glory too much in James. It is an ambition that is usually called noble; in truth there can not be noble ambition, if noble it means good. But leave it there: I do not want to, nor do I know nor should I do the moralist: certainly I would like man to do well, without always aiming at another, of which he should do better; and that especially in art and especially in poetry, which is no merit to do well, because you can not hurt; either it is done or it is not done; the artist and the poet were content with pleasure in itself without trying to please at all costs to others and more than others. Let us leave, I repeat: I only want to say that this excessive desire for glory was the cause of unhappiness to Giacomo Leopardi. That immoderate was in Giacomo still child, says Carlo: «He showed since small age character to the great actions, love of glory and of ardent freedom». Let us note that love of freedom, son, not brother, of that of glory, as is clear to those who read the second of ‘Thoughts: “Scroll the lives of illustrious men, and if you look at to those who are not to enroll, but to do, you will find very hard really very large, to whom the father has not been missing in the first age … “And further down:” the paternal power near all the nations that have laws, brings with them a kind of slavery in the children, that to be domestic, is more stringent and more sensitive than civil “. And that James would adapt this general principle to his case, or rather derive from it, can not be doubted by those who think his words: “I will never see heaven or earth, that it is not Recanatese, before that accident, that the nature commands that I theme and that outridered according to nature will happen in the time of my old age: I say the death of my father “. In the time of old age! in which, as he observes in the quoted thought, man “does not feel stimulus … and if he tried, he would no longer have impetus, nor strength, nor sufficient time for great actions”. However, we observe that he concludes that it is an inestimable usefulness to find an expert and loving guide in youth, although he adds that it derives “a kind of nothingness and of youth and generally of life”. Well, what could as a boy fear more than such a nullity, who in 17 said: “I have great, perhaps immoderate and insolent, desire for glory; I want to get up, make myself great and eternal with ingenuity and study “; and in 19: “Do I rather be unhappy than small”? This vote, poor Giacomo, was fulfilled. Now as in him, still a child, was the fatal desire cultivated, what did I say? Already his father had been as a child (and he continued to be) animated by the same sentiment. He says of himself, among many other notes that could be referred to: “It is strange, however, that I nourished a very ardent desire to know, and that very little attracted by childish detentions I always read, and more obstinately, those things that I least understood, to have the glory of having heard them. ” And then: “I resigned myself to living and dying without being learned, although I had nudrita cupidissima desire”. And the most covetous desire was transfused into James who “from the age of 13 to 17” wrote from six to seven non-small tomes over learned things; as he himself says, adding: “what an effort is precisely what has ruined me”; and in another place he claims to have been ruined with 7 years of crazy and desperate study, and it is known that he studied until very late at night, knees before the table, to be able to write to the last flicker of the dying lamp. Yet, unlike his father, as a child he was enticed by childish restraints: from what must be deduced, that of the desperate study suggested by the immoderate desire for glory, was, at least in part, due to the very education he received from his father. Who in 1801, for one, had erected a poetic academy in his house, which lasted for three or four years and then died, when he no longer had his “paternal house”. Why did Monaldo erect it? Because “these academies are a small theater where you can do some kind of ingeniously pumping and without the need of great scientific capital, excite any principle of emulation, light up some desire for glory, impose love for study or at least the need to simulate it … ».

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