Leopardi: Selected Poems

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Overview

By catching something of Leopardi's cadences and tonality in a version that still reads as idiomatic modern English (with an occasional Irish or American accent), Leopardi: Selected Poems should win for the Italian poet the wider appreciative audience he deserves. Hist themes are mutability, landscape, love; his attitude, one of unflinching realism in the face of unavoidable human loss. But the manners of the poems are a unique amalgam of philosophical toughness and the lyrically bitter sweet. In a way more pure ...
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Overview

By catching something of Leopardi's cadences and tonality in a version that still reads as idiomatic modern English (with an occasional Irish or American accent), Leopardi: Selected Poems should win for the Italian poet the wider appreciative audience he deserves. Hist themes are mutability, landscape, love; his attitude, one of unflinching realism in the face of unavoidable human loss. But the manners of the poems are a unique amalgam of philosophical toughness and the lyrically bitter sweet. In a way more pure and distilled than most others in the Western tradition, these poems are truly what Matthew Arnold asked all poetry to be, a "criticism of life." The translator's aim is to convey something of the profundity and something of the sheer poetic achievement of Leopardi's inestimable Canti.
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Editorial Reviews

Boston Review
[Leopardi's] contribution to 19th-century European poetry second only to Baudelaire's . . . there's plenty to be grateful for in this lucidly translated selection. . .
From the Publisher
Winner of the 1998 Poetry in Translation Award, PEN American Center

"[Leopardi's] contribution to 19th-century European poetry second only to Baudelaire's . . . there's plenty to be grateful for in this lucidly translated selection. . . "—Boston Review

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction to Giacomo Leopardi
Translator's Introduction: "Attempts and Preludes"
Infinitive 3
Sunday Evening 5
To the Moon 9
Dream 11
The Life of Solitude 17
Sappho's Last Song 23
Chorus of the Dead 27
To Silvia 31
The Solitary Thrush 35
Memories 39
The Clam after the Storm 49
Saturday in the Village 53
Night Song of a Nomadic Shepherd in Asia 57
To Himself 67
The Setting Moon 69
Broom or The Flower of the Desert 73
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2003

    Cosi' tra questa immesita', s'annega il pensier mio...

    Introducing a poet who divulged the voice of exclusion seems a bit of a paradox, yet it is precisely what his valiant translator seems to suggest to be doing given the relative want of interest that presently he has been receiving in the U.S. The translation is successfully carried out to the extent that the mood is respected and the melancholy distance is imparted rather faithfully. The resulting exposition of Leopardi's inestimable poetry bears the stamp of a poet who is in tune with his subject and displays considerable lyrical dexterity. However for all the agility that is here employed - so as to reproduce a work akin with the original - as always it inevitably does not do justice to the tremor that transpires through the Italian undulating and langorous resonance. The syntax is also essential to understanding the reach of this poet that only Holderlin, Rilke and Trakl may be said to have deployed a similar structural approach. Giorgio Agamben's book 'Language and Death,' would be a good source for English readers to 'get a feel' of the poet's startling implosion of loss; the subtle fragility of his theory of noia (tedium); the whole of it punctuated with and surging, tentalizing strokes that emerge in the illuminations of village damsels, of frolicsome lads or of the naively insouciant Silvia. The poems herein abound with familiar illustrations of pastoral life and of the sublime that most all Romantic poets resorted to; The fashion in which Leopardi was able to express such aloofness and despair is tragic, brilliant and engagingly dispassionate. In the words of Oliver Goldsmith: 'We cannot hesitate to say that in almost every branch of mental exertion, this extraordinary man seems to have had the capacity of attaining, and generally at a single bound, the very highest exellence. Whatever he does, he does in manner that makes it his own; not with a forced or affected, but a true originality. stamping on his work, like other masters, a type that defies all counterfeit.' Amoungst others Nietzsche had the daring to translate Leopardi's poetry. These poets shared much more than simply a common profession in Philology...they were far too profound for anyone to fathom the abyss which they ceaselessly foundered within so as to dolcify the excesses of our tragic sense of life.

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