A Sunday poem: ‘Stanzas Written in Dejection, near Naples’

The Bay of Naples from space

The English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was in Naples from 29 November 29 1818 until 28 February 1819.  He was at a low ebb: he was ill and estranged from his wife Mary over the death earlier in the year of his daughter Clara.  His first wife, Harriet Westbrook, and Mary Shelley’s half sister, Fanny Inlay, had both committed suicide and his two children by Harriet had been taken off him by the courts.  His friends had turned against him and his poetry was neglected by the public and condemned by the critics.  And he was plagued by financial and personal problems. The beauty of the Bay of Naples could not lift his mood and the depressive tone of this poem reflects this.

‘The sun is warm, the sky is clear,
The waves are dancing fast and bright,
Blue isles and snowy mountains wear
The purple noon’s transparent might,
The breath of the moist earth is light,
Around its unexpanded buds;
Like many a voice of one delight,
The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,
The City’s voice itself, is soft like Solitude’s.

I see the Deep’s untrampled floor
With green and purple seaweeds strown;
I see the waves upon the shore,
Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown:
I sit upon the sands alone,—
The lightning of the noontide ocean
Is flashing round me, and a tone
Arises from its measured motion,
How sweet! did any heart now share in my emotion.

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Naples from Parco di Capodimonte

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8ea/67603008/files/2014/12/img_1307.jpgDowntown Naples as seen from Capodimonte yesterday.

Unfortunately the large park behind the old Royal Palace was closed to visitors but there was still the opportunity for a Sunday stroll to walk off some of the Christmas turkey.

As you can see, the weather has taken a colder turn and rain was in the air – fa freddo!

Capri: the Song of the Sea

Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘literary history’s high priest of metaphysics, a writer of breathtaking letters, and a wise advisor of the young‘ stayed on Capri, the Isle of Sirens, at Villa Discopoli during the winters of 1907 and 1908.

Initially he wasn’t impressed writing to his wife:

‘I am always rather depressed in such displays of landscapes before this clear, prized, unassailable beauty’ and later ‘here both people and landscape are united in a boring measure of cheap rapture’.

A turning point came in early 1907 as this article explains:

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It started in Naples

Sophia Loren and Clark Gable on location on Capri in ‘It started in Naples‘ (Melville Shavelson, 1960).  IMDB says:

When American lawyer Michael Hamilton (Clark Gable) hears that his estranged younger brother and sister-in-law have died in a car accident, he flies to Naples, Italy, to settle their estate. Upon arriving, the xenophobic Hamilton meets his impish nephew, Nando (Marietto), for the first time, and decides he will bring the boy back with him to the United States. But when Nando’s gorgeous aunt, Lucia Curcio (Sophia Loren), protests, a lengthy and heated custody battle ensues.