The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

June 29, 2017

June 29, 1798

Giacomo Leopardi (June 29, 1798 to June 14, 1837) an Italian patriot, contributed to the unification of Italy by his inspiring poetry, though his lifelong poor health meant he did not live to see those events.

His poetry is available here, including "To Italy," where we find these lines:

Who hath deprived thee of thy sword?

What treachery, what skill, what labor vast,
Or what o'erwhelming horde
Whose fierce, invading tide, thou could'st not stem,
Hath robbed thee of thy robe and diadem?
From such a height how couldst thou fall so low?
Will none defend thee? .....

The poet compares contemporary Italy with classical Greece and the defeat of the Persians in 480 BC. A victory at the cost of many lives and against odds. The poet:

When, on that rugged shore,
Without a kiss, without a tear, ye died.
But not without a fearful blow
To Persians dealt, and their undying shame.
As at a herd of bulls a lion glares,
Then, plunging in, upon the back
Of this one leaps, and with his claws
A passage all along his chine he tears,
And fiercely drives his teeth into his sides,
Such havoc Grecian wrath and valor made
Amongst the Persian ranks, dismayed.
Behold each prostrate rider and his steed;
Behold the chariots, and the fallen tents,
A tangled mass their flight impede;
And see, among the first to fly,
The tyrant, pale, and in disorder wild!
See, how the Grecian youths,
With blood barbaric dyed,
And dealing death on every side,
By slow degrees by their own wounds subdued,
The one upon the other fall. 
Ye heroes blessed, whose names shall live,
While tongue can speak, or pen your story tell!....

These lines open "L'infinito", a very famous poem, in Italy.

" This lonely hill was always dear to me,
and this hedgerow, which cuts off the view
of so much of the last horizon.
But sitting here and gazing, I can see
beyond, in my mind’s eye, unending spaces,
and superhuman silences, and depthless calm,
till what I feel
is almost fear. And when I hear
the wind stir in these branches, I begin
comparing that endless stillness with this noise:
and the eternal comes to mind,
and the dead seasons, and the present
living one, and how it sounds.
So my mind sinks in this immensity:
and floundering is sweet in such a sea. ".....

His poem is famous, and perhaps superior to Wordsworth's similarly themed work.

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