Count Giacomo Leopardi

(29 June 1798 – 14 June 1837 / Rencanati)

To Sylvia - Poem by Count Giacomo Leopardi

O Sylvia, dost thou remember still
That period of thy mortal life,
When beauty so bewildering
Shone in thy laughing, glancing eyes,
As thou, so merry, yet so wise,
Youth's threshold then wast entering?

How did the quiet rooms,
And all the paths around,
With thy perpetual song resound,
As thou didst sit, on woman's work intent,
Abundantly content
With the vague future, floating on thy mind!
Thy custom thus to spend the day
In that sweet time of youth and May!

How could I, then, at times,
In those fair days of youth,
The only happy days I ever knew,
My hard tasks dropping, or my careless rhymes,
My station take, on father's balcony,
And listen to thy voice's melody,
And watch thy hands, as they would deftly fly
O'er thy embroidery!
I gazed upon the heaven serene,
The sun-lit paths, the orchards green,
The distant mountain here,
And there, the far-off sea.
Ah, mortal tongue cannot express
What then I felt of happiness!

What gentle thoughts, what hopes divine,
What loving hearts, O Sylvia mine!
In what bright colors then portrayed
Were human life and fate!
Oh, when I think of such fond hopes betrayed,
A feeling seizes me
Of bitterness and misery,
And tenfold is my grief renewed!
O Nature, why this treachery?
Why thus, with broken promises,
Thy children's hearts delude?

Thou, ere the grass was touched with winter's frost,
By fell disease attacked and overcome,
O tender plant, didst die!
The flower of thy days thou ne'er didst see;
Nor did thy soft heart move
Now of thy raven locks the tender praise,
Now of thy eyes, so loving and so shy;
Nor with thee, on the holidays,
Did thy companions talk of love.

So perished, too, erelong,
My own sweet hope;
So too, unto my years
Did Fate their youth deny.
Alas, alas the day,
Lamented hope, companion dear,
How hast thou passed away!
Is _this_ that world? These the delights,
The love, the labors, the events,
Of which we once so fondly spoke?
And must _all_ mortals wear this weary yoke?
Ah, when the truth appeared,
It better seemed to die!
Cold death, the barren tomb, didst thou prefer
To harsh reality.

Comments about To Sylvia by Count Giacomo Leopardi

  • (2/12/2018 12:00:00 PM)

    There is a discord in space and time.
    The stardust will far by fate intention.
    You are admired, respected and loved.
    (Report) Reply

    (2/12/2018 12:11:00 PM)

    fall, not far

    (why is there no edit feature?)

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Fabrizio Frosini (6/15/2015 12:56:00 PM)

    the Italian text:

    ''A Silvia''

    Silvia, rimembri ancora
    quel tempo della tua vita mortale,
    quando beltà splendea
    negli occhi tuoi ridenti e fuggitivi,
    e tu, lieta e pensosa, il limitare
    di gioventù salivi?

    Sonavan le quiete
    stanze, e le vie d'intorno,
    al tuo perpetuo canto,
    allor che all'opre femminili intenta
    sedevi, assai contenta
    di quel vago avvenir che in mente avevi.
    Era il maggio odoroso: e tu solevi
    così menare il giorno.

    Io gli studi leggiadri
    talor lasciando e le sudate carte,
    ove il tempo mio primo
    e di me si spendea la miglior parte,
    d’in su i veroni del paterno ostello
    porgea gli orecchi al suon della tua voce,
    ed alla man veloce
    che percorrea la faticosa tela.
    Mirava il ciel sereno,
    le vie dorate e gli orti,
    e quinci il mar da lungi, e quindi il monte.
    Lingua mortal non dice
    quel ch’io sentiva in seno.

    Che pensieri soavi,
    che speranze, che cori, o Silvia mia!
    Quale allor ci apparia
    la vita umana e il fato!
    Quando sovviemmi di cotanta speme,
    un affetto mi preme
    acerbo e sconsolato,
    e tornami a doler di mia sventura.
    O natura, o natura,
    perché non rendi poi
    quel che prometti allor? perché di tanto
    inganni i figli tuoi?

    Tu pria che l’erbe inaridisse il verno,
    da chiuso morbo combattuta e vinta,
    perivi, o tenerella. E non vedevi
    il fior degli anni tuoi;
    non ti molceva il core
    la dolce lode or delle negre chiome,
    or degli sguardi innamorati e schivi;
    né teco le compagne ai dì festivi
    ragionavan d’amore.

    Anche perìa fra poco
    la speranza mia dolce: agli anni miei
    anche negaro i fati
    la giovinezza. Ahi come,
    come passata sei,
    cara compagna dell’età mia nova,
    mia lacrimata speme!
    Questo è il mondo? questi
    i diletti, l’amor, l’opre, gli eventi,
    onde cotanto ragionammo insieme?
    questa la sorte delle umane genti?
    All’apparir del vero
    tu, misera, cadesti: e con la mano
    la fredda morte ed una tomba ignuda
    mostravi di lontano.
    (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (6/15/2015 12:55:00 PM)

    La poesia, composta a Recanati tra il 19 e il 20 aprile del 1828, compare nei 'Canti' (1831) . L'ultimo verso di ogni strofa è sempre un settenario in rima come uno dei versi precedenti. In questo componimento Leopardi rievoca una figura femminile della sua giovinezza, Silvia, morta prematuramente di tisi. Il poeta riflette sull'inevitabile infelicità dell'uomo e sul crollo delle speranze. La giovane, con la sua precoce morte, diventa l'emblema della disillusione dell'età adulta. (Report) Reply

  • Fabrizio Frosini (6/15/2015 12:43:00 PM)

    another translation:

    ''To Silvia''

    Silvia, do you remember

    those moments, in your mortal life,

    when beauty still shone

    in your sidelong, laughing eyes,

    and you, light and thoughtful,

    leapt beyond girlhood’s limits?

    The quiet rooms and the streets

    around you, sounded

    to your endless singing,

    when you sat, happily content,

    intent on that woman’s work,

    the vague future, arriving alive in your mind.

    It was the scented May, and that’s how

    you spent your day.

    I would leave my intoxicating studies,

    and the turned-down pages,

    where my young life,

    the best of me, was left,

    and from the balcony of my father’s house

    strain to catch the sound of your voice,

    and your hand, quick,

    running over the loom.

    I’d look at the serene sky,

    the gold lit gardens and paths:

    this side the mountains, that side the far-off sea.

    And human tongue cannot say

    what I felt then.

    What sweet thoughts,

    what hope, what hearts, O my Silvia!

    How all human life and fate

    appeared to us then!

    When I recall that hope

    such feelings pain me,

    harsh, disconsolate,

    I brood on my own destiny.

    Oh Nature, Nature

    why do you not give now

    what you promised then? Why

    do you so deceive your children?

    Attacked, and conquered, by secret disease,

    you died, my tenderest one, and did not see

    your years flower, or feel your heart moved,

    by sweet praise of your black hair

    your shy, loving looks.

    No friends talked with you,

    on holidays, about love.

    My sweet hopes died also

    little by little: to me too

    Fate has denied those years.

    Oh, how you’ve passed me by,

    dear friend of my new life,

    my saddened hope!

    Is this the world, the dreams,

    the loves, events, delights,

    we spoke about so much together?

    Is this our human life?

    At the advance of Truth

    you fell, unhappy one,

    and from the distance,

    with your hand you pointed

    towards death’s coldness and the silent grave.
    (Report) Reply

Read all 5 comments »

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010

[Report Error]