Canti VI, Bruto Minore

Arion 27 (1):165-169 (2019)
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Abstract

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Canti VI, Bruto Minore GIACOMO LEOPARDI (Translated by Steven J. Willett) To Peter Green After Italian Valor, lying in Thracian dust an immense ruin, had been uprooted, then in the valleys of green Hesperia, on Tiber’s shore, Fate prepares the tramp of barbarian horse, and from naked forests oppressed by the freezing Bear, calls forth the Gothic swords to overthrow Rome’s renowned walls; sitting alone, soaked in brothers’ blood, through black night in a desolate site, Brutus is determined to die, and the implacable gods and Hell itself he accuses with savage cries and strikes the somnambulant air in vain. Fatuous Valor, the empty mists, the fields of unquiet phantoms are your schools, and behind you strides remorse. To you, marmoreal gods, (whether you reside in Phlegethon or the clouds), to you a laughingstock and mockery is the miserable race from whom you extort temples and a fraudulent law insulting to mortals. Is heaven’s wrath, then, so provoked by terrestrial piety? and do you then sit, Jove, impiety’s protector? and when storm clouds exult through the air, and when arion 27.1 spring/summer 2019 you hurl the swift thunderbolt, do you cast the sacred fire on the just and faithful? Invincible destiny and iron necessity crush the sickly slaves of death: and if nothing avails to end their indignities, the common man takes comfort in their necessity. Is the evil without cure less harsh? Does he feel no grief who’s stripped naked of hope? War to the death, eternal, o ignoble fate, the valorous man wages, incapable of surrender; and your tyrannical right hand, victorious as it bears him down, indomitable he shrugs off with a valiant show, when in his noble side the bitter blade runs with blood, and malignly he smiles at the darkening shadows. He displeases the gods who violently breaks into Tartarus. No such courage could be found in their feeble, eternal breasts. Perhaps our torments, perhaps our bitter accidents and wretched passions heaven created as a pleasing spectacle for their idle hours? Not between calamities and crimes, but free in the forests and pure Nature appointed us, once our queen and goddess. But since on earth impious custom has destroyed the blessed realms and subjected our miserable life to other laws; when a virile soul rejects his luckless days does Nature return, and accuse the arrow that’s not hers? 166 CANTI VI, bruto minore Ignorant of guilt and their own misfortunes are the fortunate beasts; serene old age guides them to an unforeseen passage. But if they dash their foreheads on rough tree-trunks or from a mountain cliff cast bodies headlong to the winds, moved by their anguish, against that miserable desire would stand no arcane law or shadowy conception. You alone, among the numerous progeny that heaven created, alone among all, children of Prometheus, regret life. Alone o wretched ones, to you Jove bans, if sluggish fate delays, the shores of death. And you, from the sea stained by our blood, you rise bright moon, and explore the unquiet night and the deadly battlefield of Italian Valor. The victor tramples on kinsmen’s breasts, the hills shudder, from her highest summits ancient Rome collapses— and are you so placid? You saw the birth of Lavinia’s offspring, and their years of happiness, and the memorable victories; and on the mountain peaks you pour your immutable silent light when, in the wreck of the servile Italian name, this solitary place will echo beneath the barbarian tramp. Giacomo Leopardi 167 Here among naked rocks or on green boughs, beast and bird, breasts heavy with their habitual oblivion, ignore the profound ruin and the altered destiny of the world: and as the rooftop of the industrious peasant first glows red, with its morning song the one will wake the valleys, while through high slopes the other will startle the helpless multitude of smaller creatures. Oh destiny! oh insensate race! we are an abject part of things; neither the bloodstained soil nor the howling caves has our calamity ever perturbed, and no human cares stain the stars. Neither to Olympus’ or Cocytus’ deaf kings, or to the unworthy earth, and...

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Giacomo Leopardi
Universidad Nacional de Rosario

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