Count Giacomo Leopardi
Saturday, April 10, 2010

Night Song Of A Wandering Shepherd In Asia Comments

Rating: 3.3
What doest thou in heaven, O moon?
Say, silent moon, what doest thou?
Thou risest in the evening; thoughtfully
Thou wanderest o'er the plain,


Count Giacomo Leopardi
Fabrizio Frosini 15 June 2015
another translation: ''Night-Song Of A Wandering Shepherd of Asia'' Why are you there, Moon, in the sky? Tell me why you are there, silent Moon. You rise at night, and go contemplating deserts: then you set. Are you not sated yet with riding eternal roads? Are you not weary, still wishing to gaze at these valleys? It mirrors your life, the life of a shepherd. He rises at dawn: he drives his flock over the fields, sees the flocks, the streams, the grass: tired at evening he rests: expecting nothing more. Tell me, O Moon, what life is worth to a shepherd, or your life to you? Tell me: where does my brief wandering lead, or your immortal course? Like an old man, white-haired, infirm, barefoot and half-naked, with a heavy load on his shoulders, running onwards, panting, over mountains, through the valleys, on sharp stones, in sand and thickets, wind and storm, when the days burn and when they freeze, through torrents and marshes, falling, rising, running faster, faster, without rest or pause, torn, bleeding: till he halts where all his efforts, all the roads, have led: a dreadful, vast abyss into which he falls, headlong, forgetting all. Virgin Moon, such is the life of man. Man is born in labour: and there’s a risk of death in being born. The very first things he learns are pain and anguish: from the first his mother and father console him for being born. Then as he grows they both support him, go on trying, with words and actions, to give him heart, console him merely for being human: there’s nothing kinder a parent can do for a child. Yet why bring one who needs such comforting to life, and then keep him alive? If life is a misfortune, why grant us such strength? Such is the human condition, inviolate Moon. But you who are not mortal, care little, maybe, for my words. Yet you, lovely, eternal wanderer, so pensive, perhaps you understand this earthly life, this suffering, the sighs that exist: what this dying is, this last fading of our features, the vanishing from earth, the losing all familiar, loving company. And you must understand the ‘why’ of things, and view the fruits of morning, evening, silence, endless passing time. You know (you must) at what sweet love of hers the springtime smiles, the use of heat, and whom the winter benefits with frost. You know a thousand things, reveal a thousand things still hidden from a simple shepherd. Often as I gaze at you hanging so silently, above the empty plain that the sky confines with its far circuit: or see you steadily follow me and my flock: or when I look at the stars blazing in the sky, musing I say to myself: ‘What are these sparks, this infinite air, this deep infinite clarity? What does this vast solitude mean? And what am I? ’ So I question. About these magnificent, immeasurable mansions, and their innumerable family: and the steady urge, the endless motion of all celestial and earthly things, circling without rest, always returning to their starting place: I can’t imagine their use or fruit. But you, deathless maiden, I’m sure, know everything. This I know, and feel, that others, perhaps, may gain benefit and comfort from the eternal spheres, from my fragile being: but to me life is evil. O flock at peace, O happy creatures, I think you have no knowledge of your misery! How I envy you! Not only because you’re almost free of worries: quickly forgetting all hardship, every hurt, each deep fear: but because you never know tedium. When you lie in the shade, on the grass, you’re peaceful and content: and you spend most of the year untroubled, in that state. If I sit on the grass, in the shade, weariness clouds my mind, and, as if a thorn pricked me, sitting there I’m still further from finding peace and rest. Yet there’s nothing I need, and I’ve known no reason for tears. I can’t say what you enjoy or why: but you’re fortunate. O my flock: there’s little still I enjoy, and that’s not all I regret. If you could speak, I’d ask you: ‘Tell me, why are all creatures at peace, idle, lying in sweet ease: why, if I lie down to rest, does boredom seize me? ’ If I had wings, perhaps, to fly above the clouds, and count the stars, one by one, or roam like thunder from crest to crest, I’d be happier, my sweet flock, I’d be happier, bright moon. Or perhaps my thought strays from truth, gazing at others’ fate: perhaps whatever form, whatever state it’s in, its cradle or its fold, the day of birth is dark to one that’s born.
14 0 Reply
Godfrey Morris 26 February 2015
Beautiful this poem explored truth. Great write
1 0 Reply
Savita Tyagi 26 February 2015
A long poem indeed but beautiful. So many lines worth remembering. Enjoyed it very much.
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Jafta Maduna 26 February 2015
i usually recall big and old poems as boring, but diz one is the best
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Paul Reed 26 February 2015
I recoil from long poems but read this one as I loved 'Calm After Storm'; by the same poet. Well worth it, as there are some lovely lines including: e'en from the first, His parents fondly strive To comfort him in his distress; And if he lives and grows, They struggle hard, as best they may, With pleasant words and deeds to cheer him up, And seek with kindly care, To strengthen him his cruel lot to bear. What a wonderful summary of parenthood, still so true
2 0 Reply
Kim Barney 26 February 2015
For a poem as old as this one is, I was surprisingly drawn in to it and really enjoyed it... until about the end of the third long verse. Then I just got tired of reading. I guess in my old age I just don't have the patience I used to have. I don't even buy green bananas anymore...
4 0 Reply

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