Monday, October 08, 2012


In Italian schools they used to have students memorize poems - tons of them, beginning with easy ones in elementary school, going up to long sections of the Divine Comedy by the time you were in high school. 
At the time, I resented having to repeatedly read and recite verse, but now that I've long forgotten most of the poems I had memorized, the few that remain have become treasured possessions.

Here is one of the best of them: Giacomo Leopardi's L'Infinito


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 quïete
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.

Giacomo Leopardi

1 comment:

  1. You make a good point. We often underestimate the value of what we're required to memorize (or even learn) in school. Only to think fondly of ourselves when we're older for remembering those same texts. I'm quite impressed by your ability to recollect Giacomo Leopardi's L'Infinito.

    For those of you who don't speak Italian, no worries, it's quite good in English too.


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