Count Giacomo Leopardi
The Resurrection - Poem by Count Giacomo Leopardi
I thought I had forever lost,
Alas, though still so young,
The tender joys and sorrows all,
That unto youth belong;
The sufferings sweet, the impulses
Our inmost hearts that warm;
Whatever gives this life of ours
Its value and its charm.
What sore laments, what bitter tears
O'er my sad state I shed,
When first I felt from my cold heart
Its gentle pains had fled!
Its throbs I felt no more; my love
Within me seemed to die;
Nor from my frozen, senseless breast
Escaped a single sigh!
I wept o'er my sad, hapless lot;
The life of life seemed lost;
The earth an arid wilderness,
Locked in eternal frost;
The day how dreary, and the night
How dull, and dark, and lone!
The moon for me no brightness had,
No star in heaven shone.
And yet the old love was the cause
Of all the tears I shed;
Still in my inmost breast I felt
The heart was not yet dead.
My weary fancy still would crave
The images it loved,
And its capricious longings still
A source of sorrow proved.
But e'en that lingering spark of grief
Was soon within me spent,
And I the strength no longer had
To utter a lament.
And there I lay, stunned, stupefied,
Nor asked for comfort more;
My heart to hopeless, blank despair
Itself had given o'er.
How changed, alas, was I from him
Who once with passion thrilled,
Whose ardent soul was ever, once,
With sweet illusions filled!
The swallow to my window, still,
Would come, to greet the dawn;
But his sweet song no echo found
In my poor heart, forlorn.
Nor pleased me more, in autumn gray,
Upon the hill-side lone,
The cheerful vesper-bell, or light
Of the departing sun.
In vain the evening star I saw
Above the silent vale,
And vainly warbled in the grove
The plaintive nightingale.
And you, ye furtive glances, bright,
From gentle eyes that rove,
The sweet, the gracious messages
Of first immortal Love;
The soft, white hand, that tenderly
My own hand seemed to woo;
All, all your magic spells were vain,
My torpor to subdue.
Of every pleasure quite bereft,
Sad but of tranquil mien;
A state of perfect littleness,
Yet with a face serene;
Save for the lingering wish, indeed,
In death to sink to rest,
The force of all desire was spent
In my exhausted breast.
As some poor, feeble wanderer,
With age and sorrow bent,
The April of my years, alas,
Thus listlessly I spent;
Thus listlessly, thus wearily,
Didst thou consume, O heart,
Those golden days, ineffable,
So swiftly that depart.
_Who_, from this heavy, heedless rest
Awakens me again?
What new, what magic power is this,
I feel within me reign?
Ye motions sweet, ye images,
Ye throbs, illusions blest,
Ah, no,--ye are not then shut out
Forever from this breast?
The glorious light of golden days
Do ye again unfold?
The old affections that I lost,
Do I once more behold?
Now, as I gaze upon the sky,
Or on the verdant fields,
Each thing with sorrow me inspires,
And each a pleasure yields.
The mountain, forest, and the shore
Once more my heart rejoice;
The fountain speaks to me once more,
The sea hath found a voice.
Who, after all this apathy,
Restores to me my tears?
Each moment, as I look around,
How changed the world appears!
Hath hope, perchance, O my poor heart,
Beguiled thee of thy pain?
Ah, no, the gracious smile of hope
I ne'er shall see again.
Nature bestowed these impulses,
And these illusions blest;
Their inborn influence, in me,
By suffering was suppressed;
But not annulled, not overcome
By cruel blows of Fate;
Nor by the inauspicious frown
Of Truth, importunate!
I know she has no sympathy
For fond imaginings;
I know that Nature, too, is deaf,
Nor heeds our sufferings;
That for our _good_ she nothing cares,
Our _being_, only heeds;
And with the sight of our distress
Her wild caprices feeds.
I know the poor man pleads in vain,
For others' sympathy;
That scornfully, or heedlessly,
All from his presence flee;
That both for genius and for worth,
This age has no respect;
That all who cherish lofty aims
Are left to cold neglect.
And you, ye eyes so tremulous
With lustre all divine,
I know how false your splendors are,
Where no true love doth shine.
No love mysterious and profound
Illumes you with its glow;
Nor gleams one spark of genial fire
Beneath that breast of snow.
Nay, it is wont to laugh to scorn
Another's tender pain;
The fervent flame of heavenly love
To treat with cold disdain.
Yet I with thankfulness once more
The old illusions greet,
And feel, with shock of pleased surprise,
The heart within me beat.
To thee alone this force renewed,
This vital power I owe;
From thee alone, my faithful heart,
My only comforts flow.
I feel it is the destiny
Of every noble mind,
In Fate, in Fortune, Beauty, and the World,
An enemy to find:
But while thou liv'st, nor yield'st to Fate,
Contending without fear,
I will not tax with cruelty
The power that placed me here.
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