Tuesday, October 18, 2016



Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), "On the Monument to Dante Being Erected in Florence," lines 190-200 (tr. Jonathan Galassi):
I, while I'm alive, shall keep exhorting,        190
Turn back to your ancestors, corrupted sons.
Look at these ruins,
these pages, canvases, these stones and temples.
Think what earth you walk on. And if the light
of these examples fails to inspire you,        195
what are you waiting for? Arise and go.
Such low behavior is unworthy
of this nurse and teacher of great spirits.
If she is the home of cowards,
better she be a widow and alone.        200

Io mentre viva andrò sclamando intorno,        190
Volgiti agli avi tuoi, guasto legnaggio;
Mira queste ruine
E le carte e le tele e i marmi e i templi;
Pensa qual terra premi; e se destarti
Non può la luce di cotanti esempli,        195
Che stai? levati e parti.
Non si conviene a sì corrotta usanza
Questa d'animi eccelsi altrice e scola:
Se di codardi è stanza,
Meglio l'è rimaner vedova e sola.        200
The same, tr. Geoffrey L. Bickersteth:
I, while I live, will cease not to proclaim:        190
Turn, corrupt stock, turn to your ancestors;
Mark what these ruins tell,
These scrolls and paintings, marbles and temple-shrines;
Think on what soil ye tread; and if, even so,
Ye still are blind to the light that round you shines,        195
Why stay? Rise up and go.
This nurse and school of heroes doth refuse
To brook a custom so degenerate:
If cowards the land abuse,
Better it still lie widowed and desolate.        200

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