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Thread: Poetry Reading Group Redux- Nominations

  1. #256
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Grennan's last stanza is translated:

    Young lad, larking about,
    This blossom-time of yours
    Is like a day of pure delight,
    A cloudless blue day,
    Before the feast of your life.
    Enjoy it, little one, for this
    Is a state of bliss, a glad season.
    I'll say no more, only
    Don't fret if your Sunday
    Seems a long time coming.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  2. #257
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynne50 View Post
    Neely After reading your translation of the last stanza, I have to agree that I like it better than Grennan's.
    Yes I think so, I think I preferred the Grennan for the other poem, but the Nichols one for this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Grennan's last stanza is translated:
    Young lad, larking about,
    This blossom-time of yours
    Is like a day of pure delight,
    A cloudless blue day,
    Before the feast of your life.
    Enjoy it, little one, for this
    Is a state of bliss, a glad season.
    I'll say no more, only
    Don't fret if your Sunday
    Seems a long time coming.
    Thanks. Yes I think this version is softer than the Nichols one and not as obvious in regards to my previous reading of the poem, it seems a little more subdued in tone.

  3. #258
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Okay, I finally sat down and read the poem today. It's a good one. Much appreciation to quasi for picking. There's quite a bit to write on this one, so I'm going to break this into three posts. First, I want to say something about the biblical/classical resonances of the first half of the poem, and how they create a pretty common chronology of youth to old age and death. Then, something should be said about how that usual timeline is challenged in the second half of the poem. Also, something should be said about why the second half of the poem focuses on just boys and men. The first half encompassed both genders, but the second part of the poem shifts toward just one. I'll start with the first part of the poem, though, and I'll see how far I get.

    The juxtaposition of age and youth in writing goes back to the classics. The Greeks and Romans were obsessed with assigning attributes to the young and old. Aristotle, Lucretius, and Horace are just three authors who come to mind, and they each point to the profligacy and joy of youth as well as the reflectiveness and caution of old age. Much in the first half of "Saturday in the Village" could have come straight out of Horace's Epistles or the Ars Poetica. Here's just a piece of the Ars Poetica:

    Quote Originally Posted by Horace View Post
    The lad who can answer now, and set a firm foot
    To the ground, likes to play with his peers, loses but
    Quickly regains his temper, and alters with the hour.
    The beardless youth, free of tutors at last, delights
    In horse and hound, and the turf of the sunlit Campus,
    He’s wax malleable for sin, rude to his advisors,
    Slow in making provision, lavish with money,
    Spirited, passionate, and swift to change his whim.

    Manhood’s years and thoughts, with altering interests,
    Seek wealth and friendship, devoted to preferment,
    Wary of doing what they may soon labour to change.
    Many troubles surround the aged man, because he
    Seeks savings, yet sadly won’t touch them, fears their use,
    And because in all he does he’s cold and timid,
    Dilatory, short on hope, sluggish, greedy for life,
    Surly, a moaner, given to praising the years when
    He was a boy
    , chiding and criticising the young.
    The advancing years bring many blessings with them,
    Many, departing, they take away.
    The bold was added. Horace is cautioning playwrights and poets to give the right characteristics to old and young characters. Each group has its own habits, and Horace suggests that no one will care for your literature if you can't understand that. In the first half of "Saturday in the Village" Leopardi takes Horace's advice and writes girls and boys as carelees, pleasure-seeking youths: "A flock of boys makes a happy racket" and the girls dress up for dancing and socializing. Meanwhile, the elderly wait on their porches or work their jobs, while reflecting on pleasure in the past or enjoying smaller, quieter pleasures. Everyone is obeying classical rules.

    Soon, though, the young will become old, and the old will die. Time and death are also very present in the first half of the poem. The sun is setting in the poem's first line. Already, we start with an image of decline and the temporal. Our first character, the girl, arrives "With an armful of fresh grass." This is a line with many resonances. In the Bible grass can stand for the changeable nature of sublunary things. For example, in Isiah the word of God is contrasted to the physical world: "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field." This "flesh is grass" metaphor seems to carry over into "Saturday in the Village." The "fresh grass" reminds us of young "flesh." It also reminds us that the grass and flesh will eventually wither and die. In theological terms this is a call to abandon the earthly and accept the divine. The passage from Isiah ends with "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." The first half of Leopardi's poem takes us through earthly enjoyments (represented by the girls and boys) through a sour old age (defined by classical writers) and end with death--where, if one's following the usual Christian theology, they are connected with God. The last word of the first section is "rest." The grown man is "Thinking about his day of rest." By the nineteenth-century this was almost cliche. If you want a more drawn out retelling of this progression, read "The Four Ages" by Anne Bradstreet. She elaborates this idea with greater clarity.

    The girl returning with "fresh grass" is also reminiscent of the mower poems by Marvell--as Paulem has pointed out. The mower poems replace the shepherds of classical pastorals with scythe-handling harvesters. Many of Marvell's mowers have two things: an amorous goal and a hyper-awareness of death. That's what so many of the poem are about. The mower represents to the reader how while we're mindlessly following our desires death is slowly creeping up on us. The mower is like the love-struck shepherds of the pastorals, but, at the same time, his harvesting of grass is like how death will eventually harvest us. This is a connection made easier for readers of classical mythology, as Chronos and Saturn are frequently portrayed with scythes. In fact, Father Time (a figure that derives from those Greek and Roman gods) is frequently portrayed scythe-bearing. You can see him wielding his scythe in some of Hogarth's famous works:


    Hogarth's Portrait: The Graham Children

    In the upper left is a clock with Father Time holding up a scythe. This is a pretty common connection (harvesting with death), and Leopardi may be employing it here in this poem. I doubt he was reading much Marvell or staring at Hogarth's portraits, but this idea goes back to antiquity. I used examples from English art for illustration simply because I'm just more familiar with English variants of this connection.

    I'm going to have to speed things up now because I find I'm only three lines into the poem, and I want to get to the end of the first section. I'll skip a little here and focus just on the death imagery and allusions. So when Leopardi introduces the old ladies, this quickly brings up the idea of death. The sky and landscape take on corpse-like colors: "The sky turns deep blue, shadows/ Stretch from the hills and tilting roofs/In the blanched light of the rising moon." Suddenly, everything is deep blue and pale white. The shadows have crept up, as well--indicating passage of time like a sundial. Shadow also has a great deal of biblical resonance. Frequently, the Bible refers to the "shadow of death." In Job, Isiah, Mark, Luke, and the Psalm the phrase appears. I think that Leopardi has moved from the young to the old and finally on to the dead. He's taken us through a very classical and biblical lifecycle where mankind starts as a careless, pleasure-seeking youth, travels through reflective, industrious middle age, and ends in divine "rest."

    Interesting, though, the poem does not end there. The second part (everything after "Thinking about his day of rest") throws this all into the air. There's an awareness in the following lines that life might not follow classical and biblical precedent--even if everyone strains to meet that ideal. We see the carpenter working furiously to finish a job late at night. The poet forecasts a melancholy day rather than a blessed one, and councils the boys that Sunday may not come on time. Leopardi challenges the established chronology that the literary tradition had promised everyone.
    I'll explain better what I mean in the next post.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  4. #259
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    First, I want to say something about the biblical/classical resonances of the first half of the poem, and how they create a pretty common chronology of youth to old age and death. Then, something should be said about how that usual timeline is challenged in the second half of the poem....The juxtaposition of age and youth in writing goes back to the classics. The Greeks and Romans were obsessed with assigning attributes to the young and old. Aristotle, Lucretius, and Horace are just three authors who come to mind, and they each point to the profligacy and joy of youth as well as the reflectiveness and caution of old age. Much in the first half of "Saturday in the Village" could have come straight out of Horace's Epistles or the Ars Poetica. Here's just a piece of the Ars Poetica:
    Weren't you the one arguing that Leopardi wasn't a classicist?

    I enjoyed your post Quark. I hadn't thought about the cut grass as a result of the scythe, which would definitely signal death. I think Paul is defintely right to point out that the core of this poem is about death.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  5. #260
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Weren't you the one arguing that Leopardi wasn't a classicist?
    What I'm calling the first half of the poem (lines 1-30 in the Grennan translation) is very classical. As I was saying before, though, the second half of the poem seems to challenge the first half. The assumption that life perfectly follows biblical/classical examples is called into question. I'll post more about that later. I still have to find a couple of things before I can spit out exactly what I mean.

    In any case, I think we've talked the "Is he a neo-classicist?" question to death:



    Yikes! The emoticon is a touch too graphic for me. I'm not even sure why we have it. The admin and mods have gone a little overboard with the smilies of late. (Although, an overboard emoticon would have really helped there.) Some of these little images are just baffling. Take this one: . What the hell is that? Maybe if I were decribing Ferris Bueler's Day Off that might come in handy, but otherwise it seems pretty strange.
    Last edited by Quark; 03-22-2010 at 02:19 PM.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  6. #261
    Some good insights into the poem Quark, my biblical knowledge is not that strong so I wouldn't have picked up on those. I also like the points about the scythe and the grass which I didn't see when I read it. I look forward to read the rest of your points. Beep beep:

  7. #262
    This celestial seascape! Lynne50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quark View Post
    .) Some of these little images are just baffling. Take this one: . What the hell is that? Maybe if I were decribing Ferris Bueler's Day Off that might come in handy, but otherwise it seems pretty strange.

    I noticed in the emoticon that the front wheel is turning but not the back. Does that imply "we're just spinning our wheels" Just a thought.
    "What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare." W.H. Davies

  8. #263
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Good post Quark. In the Nichols translation the Country Girl is referred to as carrying hay, so the biblical "flesh is grass" reference was less apparent. i think it is entirely plausible though.

    At the moment I'm trying to reconcile the image of the crone spinning the story of her youth - similar to arachnae who was turned into the spider. Arachnae wove the infidelities of the gods, which may be a reference to the crone's stories of her youth. This seems to sit well with the imagery of death and the warning about youth in Quark's post. It reminds me of Donne too exhorting young men in his sermons, though of course this may be in the tradition that Quark refers to, rather than a direct link.

    I can see the link to the young boys at the end of the poem - representing youthful boisterousness. Are they images of innocence befor they have the opportunity to spoil their spirituality?

    Again just musing.

  9. #264
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Part 2/3

    So, there's a second half to this poem. I talked a little about the biblical/classical tradition the first half of the poem (lines 1-30 in the Grennan translation) is working in before. Leopardi reminds readers of the classical life cycle (youth to old age) and a Christian notion of time (a changing world contrasted with an unchanging heaven which we strive for in life but can only reach at death). The poem reinforces these concepts of time and progress by paralleling them with natural progression--like the progression of the sun across the sky or the progression of Saturday into Sunday. The first half of the poem looks like something a seventeenth-century poet would have written.

    The second half of the poem, however, challenges the assumptions made in the first half. The order established in the first half is broken. Lines 31-32 (Then, when every other light is out/ And there isn't another sound) give the impression that everyone has reached the "rest" spoken of at the end of the first half. That is, everything is as it should be. But, right after that, Leopardi notices something amiss:

    You'll hear the carpenter's saw,
    You'll hear his hammer
    Banging from the shuttered shop,
    Where, by lamplight, he sweats and strains
    To finish a job before break of day. (32-37)
    The bold is added again. Leopardi reminds readers that not everyone has gotten to rest. Some people are struggling to meet the ideal set up by classical/biblical precedent. The carpenter has to "sweat" and "strain" before his Sunday. This is a bit of break from the Bible--as God finished his six-day enterprise with a great deal more ease and grace. I don't remember God having to last-minute things. People, though, fall short of the ideal. Things don't work exactly as planned, and the biblical precedent is shown to be a promise that isn't always kept. Not only do people have stretch to try to obtain "rest," they also have a difficult time trying to live in classically-defined stages of life. The poem points out that everyone isn't thinking of the day they're in, but rather their thoughts stray to tomorrow. Saturday is filled with hope for Sunday, and Sunday is consumed by despair because of Monday. Horace, Lucretius, Ovid all taught that your current stage of life defines you. If you're young, you naturally act carelessly. If you're old, you're caution. The young act, and the old reflect. That's supposed to be life. Leopardi, though, contradicts the tradition, and shows that people don't live in their current stage of life. Instead, they're thinking about the next one. Those in Saturday think about Sunday, and those in Sunday think about Monday:

    This one [Saturday] get this warmest welcome,
    Full of hope, as it is, and joy.
    Tomorrow the hours will be leaden
    With emptiness and melancholy,
    Everybody going back in his mind
    To the daily grind. (39-44)
    The questions now are "Why is the biblical/classical" tradition broken?" and "What are the effects of it breaking?" I think the first question has a very historical answer: the Enlightenment replaced sacred and classical history with natural science and secular history. The grand narratives of the ancients and the Bible no longer seemed to apply. Peter Brooks outlines this historical trend in Reading for the Plot--his influential study of narrative: "As Voltaire announced and then the Romantics confirmed, history replaces theology as the key discourse and central imagination." He goes on to argue that "The enormous narrative production of the nineteenth century may suggest an anxiety at the loss of providential plots: the plotting of the individual or social or institutional life story takes on new urgency when one no longer can look to a sacred masterplot that organizes and explains the world." Clearly, Brooks is reaching a bit here (he will eventually step back from these "sweeping generalizations"), but the point he's making about the loss of a "sacred masterplot" is quite accurate. The Enlightenment breaks from earlier traditions and establishes new rules for ordering one's life.

    I think you see this happening across the continent in many art forms, too. Look at the change in France between Baroque and Rococo painting. The Baroque period stressed political and religious orthodoxy through classical and biblical allusion, but the later Rococo period freed art from its attachment to those "masterplots." Sometimes the change between periods is commented on in the painting themselves--as in Charles-Antoine Coypel's Painting Ejecting Thalia:


    Charles-Antoine Coypel: Painting Ejecting Thalia

    Thalia is the Greek grace representing history. She was often depicted as assisting political leaders in Baroque art, but in this painting she's expelled by the painter. Similarly, in Leopardi's poem there's a break from the biblical and classical tradition. The old models of life--while not expelled--are certainly critiqued.

    I think when we ask the question "What are the effects of it [the tradition] breaking?," though, we end up with a much different answer than the Enlightenment thinkers or Rococo artists would have given. For them, the break from tradition was an unquestionably good thing. It allowed art to pursue pleasure and useful instruction. It civilized society. Yet, Leopardi doesn't seem to embrace this change the same way these others did. He meets the collapsed tradition with somber resignation. The last lines of the poem are:

    Young lad, larking about,
    This blossom-time of yours
    Is like a day of pure delight,
    A cloudless blue day
    Before the feast of your life.
    Enjoy it, little one, for this
    Is a state of bliss, a glad season.
    I'll say no more, only
    Don't fret if your Sunday
    Seems a long time coming.
    There's no attempt to regain a "masterplot"--just acceptance of uncertainty.

    That's what I think is going on with tradition in this poem. As usual, there's plenty more to talk about. I wanted to get that out there, so that it doesn't go unnoticed. Also, I still want to talk about the women and men in this poem, so I got one more long post to write.
    Last edited by Quark; 03-23-2010 at 04:37 PM.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  10. #265
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Saturday is filled with hope for Sunday, and Sunday is consumed by despair because of Monday.
    I also think there is pleasure associated with Sunday. I don't see the despair of Monday as being the defining characteristic of Sunday. It's a pleasure to have Sunday and "oh yeah, Monday is coming."

    The questions now are "Why is the biblical/classical" tradition broken?" and "What are the effects of it breaking?"
    To be honest this whole classical/biblical/enlightment segmenting of the poem is a real stretch. There is a distinction between Saturday/Sunday/Monday, but no where can i see any philosophical distinctions as linked to philosophic movements in this poem.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  11. #266
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    I also think there is pleasure associated with Sunday. I don't see the despair of Monday as being the defining characteristic of Sunday. It's a pleasure to have Sunday and "oh yeah, Monday is coming.
    Then what do you make of these lines:

    Tomorrow the hours will be leaden
    With emptiness and melancholy,
    Everybody going back in his mind
    To the daily grind. (41-44)
    I think you're right that there is some pleasure associated with Sunday. But, when a poem says that something will be empty and melancholy, I think you also have to acknowledge that there's more than just pleasure there, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    At the moment I'm trying to reconcile the image of the crone spinning the story of her youth - similar to arachnae who was turned into the spider. Arachnae wove the infidelities of the gods, which may be a reference to the crone's stories of her youth. This seems to sit well with the imagery of death and the warning about youth in Quark's post.
    Now that's a reference I would have to look up. Give me a second to review the poem and my mythology.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    I can see the link to the young boys at the end of the poem - representing youthful boisterousness. Are they images of innocence befor they have the opportunity to spoil their spirituality?
    Again, I'd have to go back to the poem for this. I need to reread before I'll say something about the spirituality of the boys.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lynne50 View Post
    noticed in the emoticon that the front wheel is turning but not the back. Does that imply "we're just spinning our wheels"
    Maybe. Let's just agree that's what it is, though. Then it would at least have some meaning.
    Last edited by Quark; 03-23-2010 at 06:47 PM.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  12. #267
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    I have to agree with Virgil - I don't doubt the traditions you are referring to Quark, but I think the link with the poem is too thin. I'd like a theory that sits closer to the text, as clearly the biblical links do.

  13. #268
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    The Nichols translation has:

    The day of seven is the best of all,
    So full of hpe and joy:
    The hours will bring ennui
    Tomorrow, and sadness, making everyone
    Return in thought to his accustomed toil.

    The seven days I see as the creation. But whereas God can create in 7 days, man cannot, and has to return to his toil, which brings us to Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
    I was wondering about the crone - as the old woman is referred to in the Nichols - and original sin. The image of her is of Arachnae who challenged Athena and was turned into a spider for spinning the Infidelities of the Gods. Does this link to original sin - and the cause of man's toil? The first half is about women - and their anticipation and reflection on the Holy day. The second part is about toil. Does the ending with the young boys represent inocence?
    Last edited by Paulclem; 03-23-2010 at 06:49 PM. Reason: Furious fingers

  14. #269
    Of Subatomic Importance Quark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    The Nichols translation has:

    The day of seven is the best of all,
    So full of hpe and joy:
    The hours will bring ennui
    Tomorrow, and sadness, making everyone
    Return in thought to his accustomed toil.
    Oh that makes it clearer. Yeah, I think I misread which day was being referred to there. Ultimately, though, the point that I'm making still stands. What I was saying is that people in this poem think about the next day, rather than the one they're in. On Saturday, the farmer goes home thinking about his day of rest. On Saturday, the boys are happy about the coming Sunday, the girl gets ready for the socializing on Sunday. But, when Sunday actually comes and there's hope and joy, Leopardi jumps over the day itself. Suddenly we're into Monday and the "sadness" and "ennui" are upon us. There isn't much enjoyment of the actual present day. Everyone is looking ahead--or sometimes behind. The poem itself is looking ahead--or sometimes behind. But there's little appreciation of the present day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    The seven days I see as the creation. But whereas God can create in 7 days, man cannot, and has to return to his toil, which brings us to Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
    That seems a little far-fetched given what we know about Leopardi. What you're saying makes the poem sound like a pretty typical discussion of fallen man. It's the kind of thing you would expect someone very sure of their faith to write: that man is fallen, but he will eventually be redeemed. That's pretty optimistic. But Leopardi wasn't exactly a super-Christian--if such a title exists. Virgil asked whether he was an atheist when we discussing the last poem, and I think that's a fair question. He certainly has doubts, and he doesn't care for the usual doctrine. Read his poem about the monument to Dante or "The Flower in the Desert" and this really comes out.

    That's why I tend to think that the problems being discussed in the second half of the poem (the fact that Sunday is a long time coming, and the carpenter has to work overtime) has more to with man being secular than it does with man being fallen. It's also why I brought up the Enlightenment. Leopardi isn't referring to specific Enlightenment thinkers, or anything like that, but he's certainly talking about secularization--which is very much a result of the Enlightenment. I brought up specific examples of Enlightenment thought as illustration, not to say to say that he was referring to these individual people. That would be crazy. Why would he be talking about French painting? Really, I'm just saying that he's talking about secularization. And it's not just this poem which takes up this theme. For a closer look at Leopardi's view on this read "Various thoughts on philosophy and literature" where he specifically talks about how the rise of reason has challenged myth and religion--and even replaced them.

    As usual, the poem is about a lot of things. But parts of it seem to be about secularization.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    Does the ending with the young boys represent inocence?
    Yeah, I think you're right. They're eagerly expecting something that the poet knows more about and questions. The speaker is more knowledgeable, but it's debatable whether that knowledge is really desirable. You could argue that the children represent innocence and the speaker represents experience. I think you and I disagree about what that experience entails, though. As I was saying above, his experience seems to point to skepticism rather than worldly, post-lapsarian kind of knowledge. What he knows doesn't suggest earthly evil, rather it suggests questioning.
    Last edited by Quark; 03-23-2010 at 11:34 PM.
    "Par instants je suis le Pauvre Navire
    [...] Par instants je meurs la mort du Pecheur
    [...] O mais! par instants"

    --"Birds in the Night" by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Join the discussion here: http://www.online-literature.com/for...5&goto=newpost

  15. #270
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynne50 View Post
    I don't want to rush our discussion of Saturday in the Village but maybe our next poem could be Sunday Evening. It seems like it may be a continuation of Leopardi's theme from the first poem. Not sure why it comes so much later in the collection.
    According to "A Leopardi Reader" by Ottavio M. Casale, Sunday Evening was written sometime in October 1820 and Saturday in the Village was written on September 29th 1829. My guess is it comes later in the book because the editor organized the contents chronologically.

    I was wondering when we would get around to the subject of Leopardi's religious beliefs. My understanding is that he hails from a conservative papal state and converts to atheism sometime in his early twenties. I didn't bring it up in the last poem, because I wasn't sure about the exact date he lost his faith and at the time of Infinitive's creation he would only have been about twenty. But at the time, I was reminded of another Atheist poet Shelley and the ending of his poem Mont Blanc:
    And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and sea,
    if to the human mind's imaginings
    Silence and solitude were vacancy?
    when we discussed Leopardi's application of divinity, silence, and emptiness.

    And while we are discussing poetic sympathies, this poem reminds me of the beginning of Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751) with it's
    The curfew tolls the knell of parting day...
    The plowman homeward plods his weary way
    more than it does Marvel and his mowers. Leopardi is more likely to remind me of James Thomson and his City of Dreadful Night for it's cynicism and melancholy, or Alexander Pope for his classical learning and physical deformity.

    Happiness for the older people appears to be anticipatory or a function of recollection, while the younger ones are happy in the moment. As in the last poem, sound is a joyful noise be it whistling, shouting, or the bell pealing.

    He mentions the color blue twice. I wonder if he meant something by that.
    Last edited by mortalterror; 03-24-2010 at 01:53 AM.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
    "This ain't over."- Charles Bronson
    Feed the Hungry!

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