These translations of the major poems of Giacomo Leopardi (1798--1837) render into modern English verse the work of a writer who is widely regarded as the greatest lyric poet in the Italian literary tradition. In spite of this reputation, and in spite of a number of nineteenth-and twentieth-century translations, Leopardi's poems have never "come over" into English in such a way as to guarantee their author a recognition comparable to that of other great European Romantic poets.
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. His 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 bittersweet. 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.
"[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
Table of Contents:
Introduction to Giacomo Leopardi
Translator's Introduction: "Attempts and Preludes"
Sunday Evening 5
To the Moon 9
The Life of Solitude 17
Sappho's Last Song 23
Chorus of the Dead 27
To Silvia 31
The Solitary Thrush 35
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