To Evening (1803): A Sunday Italian poem

Italy from Space

Ugo Foscolo, an Italian patriot, pre-Romantic and atheist, died in exile in London.  After the Risorgimento his remains were returned to Florence.  His poem To Evening (Alla Serra) captures his restlessness, his longing for the peace that evening brings to the world, whilst foreshadowing his eventual death that will soothe his pains away.

Perhaps because you are the image
of the fatal quiet, your coming is so dear to me,
O evening!  And whether gay summer clouds
and serene zephyrs court you
Or whether down from the snowy air
you bring long, restless nights to the world,
Always you descend invoked.
and you softly take hold of the secret paths of my heart

You cause me to wander with my thoughts upon the traces
That lead to eternal nothingness; and meanwhile
this evil time flies, and with it goes the swarms
Of cares with which it is destroying itself and me;
And the while I gaze upon your peacefulness
that warrior spirit which roars in me is sleeping.

Photograph of the Mezzogiorno partly under cloud, with lightning over Naples, by the US Astronaut Scott Kelly who is spending a year in space in the International Space Station.

 

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Sunday Short Story: Mischievous Gnomes in the Mezzogiorno, Italy, 1935

In a ‘shadowy land, that knows neither sin or redemption from sin’:

At Grassano there was a young workman, about twenty years old, Carmelo Coiro, a husky fellow with a square sun-burned face, who came often in the evening to drink a glass of wine at Frisco’s inn.  He was a day labourer in the fields or on the roads, but his dream was to be a bicycle racer…at this time Carmelo was one of a group of road-menders who were repairing the road to Irsina along the Bilioso, a malaria-ridden stream that flows past Grottole into the Basento River. During the hottest hours of the day, when work was impossible, the road-menders used to go to sleep in a natural cave, one of many dotting the whole of the valley, and formerly a brigand hideout.

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