Posts Tagged ‘Giacomo Leoparadi’

my first step was to copy the italian text

partial text for “Il Primo Amore”














1That day returns to my mind  when first I sensed
The fearsome conflict of love, and so exclaimed,
‘Ah me, if this is love, what tribulation!’

2With eyes downcast, intently fixed on the ground,
I then beheld the one who, into this heart,
Guilelessly innocent, opened first the way.

3Oh Love, how reprehensibly you governed me.
But if it’s true that affection is so sweet.
Why must it come bearing such pain and sorrow?

4And not serene, but partial and dissembling,
Indeed replete with lamenting and with woe –
How made its way into  my heart such sheer delight ?

5Tell me, how, tender heart, you being affrighted,
What anguish mingled itself amongst these thoughts
Such that  each joyful thing was changed with tedium?

6Such thoughts in daytime brought with them blandishments,
And offered themselves to you during the night
When all appeared silent in the hemisphere.

7You disquieted me, being joyful and distressed,
Tired and wearied  here beneath the eiderdown
My heart with each passing hour fiercely beating.

8Then when I was in grief, and tired, and gasping,
Eyes closed to sleep as when by a fever seized,
Sleep came shattered, delirious and incomplete.

9Oh how vibrant! in darkness rendered vivid,
Surged that sweet reflection, and with eyes squeezed shut,
I then regarded  her from beneath my lids.

10Oh how filled with these sweetest of diffusions,
With sinuous motions coiled around my bones
A myriad thoughts my soul upset and confused.

11My brooding thoughts turned, as combed through streaming locks,
Within an ancient grove the west wind rustling
Leaves a lingering uncertain murmur in its wake.

12Though I was silent, though I did not protest
What did you say my heart, of her departure,
She for whose sake herein your laboured beating?

13No sooner felt I the touch of burning flames
Of  love, than the small faint trifling breeze
Which had fanned them to life quickly flew away.

14Sleepless I lay, awaiting the day’s dawning:
Listening to the steeds who would soon bereave me,
Stamping their hooves, close by my paternal roof.

15I, Timid, tongue-tied, clumsy and  inexpert,
Gazed from the balcony, leaning into the dark,
Ears tensed to hear, eyes vainly straining,

16 I listened for that voice, that I might once more
Hear it leave her lips, should it not come again –
Her voice, my last bond with her by heaven undone.

17How many times a common voice accosted
My doubting ear, which sending a chill through me,
Then made my heart race, supposing it was hers.

18Soon afterwards, for what would be the final time
I heard her lovely voice, and then the horses,
And then the rumble of the wheels departing.

19Left abandoned and bereft, I curled up tight,
In my bed, with my heart furiously beating,
Pressed my hand down hard upon my chest, and sighed.

20 Forcing my weak and trembling knees to stumble,
Stunned and stupefied within that muted chamber
I asked myself if aught else could touch my heart.

21The bitterest of bitter recollections
Lodged itself deep in my breast and locked it up,
Shutting my heart to every voice and visage.

22And then a prolonged grief searched out my breast
As when poured down the rains from mount Olympus,
And set the fields awash with melancholy.

23 Nor did I, a youth of eighteen, know you then,
Born as I was to this life only to weep,
When you, Love, launched on me then your first assault.

24When I spurned with each pleasure all things pleasant
Such as the smiling stars, or the dawning day
So still and silent, or the verdant meadow.

25Neither could the love of glory now affect me,
Which formerly I had felt warming my breast.
But now mysterious beauty claimed as home.

26Nor did my eyes once again return their gaze
To studies I had loved, which now I found vain,
Even as they had made vain still former loves.

27 However did the many things I had esteemed,
Come to be displaced by this single love?
In truth, how mutable we are wont to be!

28My heart was the only source of my pleasure
In a perennial discourse gravely interred,
To sit invigilating my grief and pain.

29Eyes to the earth bent, withdrawn into themselves,
Covert, controlled yet vague in order to evade,
Looked not at crude nor prepossessing face

30And that spotless, that chaste, unsullied image,
Portrayed deep within my breast I feared to smudge
As sudden gusts at dawn stir ripples on a lake.

31And the regret, my soul was not to revel
Unhindered, to take its fill of pleasant things,
Transmutes all former joys into pure venom.

32Those days long fled retain their power to move me.
This heart within this my breast can yet disclaim
Even the most fleeting touch of mordant shame.

33To heaven and to all you gentle souls I swear,
No base desire ever found ingress in my breast.
The fire that burns within is still unblemished.

34That flame lives still, and lives that same affection –
And breathes still in my thoughts that lovely image.
Nor found I  other joys save in whats holy –

35Hence it alone and nothing else consoles me.

Translation Dia Tsung

Giacomo Leopardi














Tornami a mente il dì che la battaglia
D’amor sentii la prima volta, e dissi:
Oimè, se quest’è amor, com’ei travaglia!

Che gli occhi al suol tuttora intenti e fissi,
Io mirava colei ch’a questo core
Primiera il varco ed innocente aprissi.

Ahi come mal mi governasti, amore!
Perchè seco dovea sì dolce affetto
Recar tanto desio, tanto dolore?

E non sereno, e non intero e schietto,
Anzi pien di travaglio e di lamento
Al cor mi discendea tanto diletto?

Dimmi, tenero core, or che spavento,
Che angoscia era la tua fra quel pensiero
Presso al qual t’era noia ogni contento?

Quel pensier che nel dì, che lusinghiero
Ti si offeriva nella notte, quando
Tutto queto parea nell’emisfero:

Tu inquieto, e felice e miserando,
M’affaticavi in su le piume il fianco,
Ad ogni or fortemente palpitando.

E dove io tristo ed affannato e stanco
Gli occhi al sonno chiudea, come per febre
Rotto e deliro il sonno venia manco.

Oh come viva in mezzo alle tenebre
Sorgea la dolce imago, e gli occhi chiusi
La contemplavan sotto alle palpebre!

Oh come soavissimi diffusi
Moti per l’ossa mi serpeano, oh come
Mille nell’alma instabili, confusi

Pensieri si volgean! qual tra le chiome
D’antica selva zefiro scorrendo,
Un lungo, incerto mormorar ne prome.

E mentre io taccio, e mentre io non contendo,
Che dicevi, o mio cor, che si partia
Quella per che penando ivi e battendo?

Il cuocer non più tosto io mi sentia
Della vampa d’ amor, che il venticello
Che l’aleggiava, volossene via.

Senza sonno io giacea sul dì novello,
E i destrier che dovean farmi deserto,
Battean la zampa sotto al patrio ostello.

Ed io timido e cheto ed inesperto,
Ver lo balcone al buio protendea
L’orecchio avido e l’occhio indarno aperto,

La voce ad ascoltar, se ne dovea
Di quelle labbra uscir, ch’ultima fosse;
La voce, ch’altro il cielo, ahi, mi togliea.

Quante volte plebea voce percosse
Il dubitoso orecchio, e un gel mi prese,
E il core in forse a palpitar si mosse!

E poi che finalmente mi discese
La cara voce al core, e de’ cavai
E delle rote il romorio s’intese;

Orbo rimaso allor, mi rannicchiai
Palpitando nel letto e, chiusi gli occhi,
Strinsi il cor con la mano, e sospirai.

Poscia traendo i tremuli ginocchi
Stupidamente per la muta stanza,
Ch’altro sarà, dicea, che il cor mi tocchi?

Amarissima allor la ricordanza
Locommisi nel petto, e mi serrava
Ad ogni voce il core, a ogni sembianza.

E lunga doglia il sen mi ricercava,
Com’è quando a distesa Olimpo piove
Malinconicamente e i campi lava.

Ned io ti conoscea, garzon di nove
E nove Soli, in questo a pianger nato
Quando facevi, amor, le prime prove.

Quando in ispregio ogni piacer, nè grato
M’era degli astri il riso, o dell’aurora
Queta il silenzio, o il verdeggiar del prato.

Anche di gloria amor taceami allora
Nel petto, cui scaldar tanto solea,
Che di beltade amor vi fea dimora.

Nè gli occhi ai noti studi io rivolgea,
E quelli m’apparian vani per cui
Vano ogni altro desir creduto avea.

Deh come mai da me sì vario fui,
E tanto amor mi tolse un altro amore?
Deh quanto, in verità, vani siam nui!

Solo il mio cor piaceami, e col mio core
In un perenne ragionar sepolto,
Alla guardia seder del mio dolore.

E l’occhio a terra chino o in se raccolto,
Di riscontrarsi fuggitivo e vago
Nè in leggiadro soffria nè in turpe volto:

Che la illibata, la candida imago
Turbare egli temea pinta nel seno,
Come all’aure si turba onda di lago.

E quel di non aver goduto appieno
Pentimento, che l’anima ci grava,
E il piacer che passò cangia in veleno,

Per li fuggiti dì mi stimolava
Tuttora il sen: che la vergogna il duro
Suo morso in questo cor già non oprava.

Al cielo, a voi, gentili anime, io giuro
Che voglia non m’entrò bassa nel petto,
Ch’arsi di foco intaminato e puro.

Vive quel foco ancor, vive l’affetto,
Spira nel pensier mio la bella imago,
Da cui, se non celeste, altro diletto

Giammai non ebbi, e sol di lei m’appago.


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