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But that was not the last voice of the poet. The poet, far from the pale light of the western moon, hinted at a broom. He spoke to it in the darkness that grew and in which there was a flash of fire. The words he addressed to the humble stems are sad; but those stems have a flower. As in the Sunset of the moon, between the disappearance of the shadows, in the unique and total and eternal shadow, the sad song of the carter, from his way (from the human way, from life); so in the last gloomy poem, among one that I would say desolate rubble of thoughts and sinister imaginations, that flower stands out with its scent that the desert comforts.

There is therefore in the desert of the Leopardian philosophy a gentle flower that sends its smell of sweet smell almostthe damage of others commiserating, to heaven.

Oh! what damages! Here is a desert of lava and ashes, here in memory a silent campaign reminiscent of a lost empire, here on us a night sky full of stars, here is a land that has buried cities in its bosom: we see a skeleton of the city set in the open, a flame that flashes through the ruins like a mysterious torch that goes around an empty palace. The symbol of destruction dominates over everything: the exterminating mountain. And there is a flight and a fall of a dizzying dreadfulness. Above the burning mountain, the starry sky. Look at those stars, then that fog of stars, conceive of greatness. Behold, the mountain is gone, the earth is but a grain of sand. A knob falls from the tree, effortlessly, for its maturity. This small thud means the ruin of a people of ants. The deep roars of the exterminating Vesevo are not even comparable to the slight thud of a rotten apple that is crushed to the ground. We sink into thought, as sometimes happens in a dream, when we suddenly abandon the weight.

No comment could be more expressive at the maximum funeral

from Nature

another in his acts

that our evil and our well cared!

The poet puts men between the darkness, tò scótos and the light, tò phôs. They preferred tò scótos.

“And men loved darkness better than light.” What is the light? the left torch that runs in the empty palace? the glow of the lava? Certainly it is the truth, and the truth discovers, for the Leopardi, the ruin and the death, the total and eternal death; like that glow,

that of far for the shadows

it reds and the lochs around it dyes,

it does not reveal that debris, in the horror of the night, and empty theaters and temples, deformed and broken houses, a skeleton of cities; reveals that everything is at the mercy of chance, that there is no law of progress, that our fate is bitter and the place is depressed, and everything passes and everything dies.

Human life is a desert dominated by the eternal threat of extermination. This is tò phôs. But the man in the light turns his face cowardly; he likes to delude himself, dreams of progress, freedom, civilization, greatness, providence, eternity. Superb fole! which you are already beginning to destroy, they now return to bloom again. Man is afraid of death, and when he is parroted, he gives himself to believe that he is immortal. This says the last voice of the poet; and so far we can say that it is repeated. You can even ask him: – And why envy the gentle illusion to ‘your fellow men, or Tristan? Why call, in a certain way, the poor child who fears the darkness? What’s the use of confirming his fear? in increasing it? He is therefore in the dark, the poor child, but he thinks: From there is a mother who has the light on or will light it to my call. No: you suggest to his heart: no, no: it is not your mother, and it is not there with the light turned on or to light up to your lamentation: it is the stepmother, stepmother in wanting even if mother in childbirth; and she went out, because she does not care about your good or your bad, and thinks of something else. Tremble, cry and despair: darkness is infinite. Dawn will never come. When the rooster crows, you will rise up to lie down in the burial.

O poet, is this your last word? –

We remember one of his words: “that my principles are all negative, I do not see them”. Was he wrong? It would be far-fetched. He felt that a great affirmation came from his negative philosophy. The assertion that he was amazed did not flash to the readers of his disconsolate prose and poetry, he expresses it here, in his lugubrious and final poem. He says that the moral resulting from religious beliefs is not effective:

superb fole

where founded probity of the vulgar

so you’re in soles

which star can he who has in error the seat.

He had already said this in the dialogue of Plotinus and Porphyry, this, overshadowing Plato’s beliefs, others dear to him in his childhood. He had said that “those doubts and beliefs (about our state after death) frighten all men in the extreme hours, when they are not fit to harm,” and frighten the good and the timid, not the others. He had said that not such suspicions of future pains and calamities, but “good laws, and more good education, and the culture of customs and minds, preserve justice and meekness in the society of men.” In short, he had denied that religious beliefs derive any fruit of virtue for men, affirming that there is no greater unhappiness for those who find life unbearable, they wanted to change it with death.

Too much more he says in the Ginestra, in which he sums up and performs, and in part, I would say, he corrects all his principles scattered in songs and moral operettas. He proclaims that in his philosophy he is a principle upon which an inconceivable system of morality can be built up; and this principle is the awareness of our baseness and friction.

Here is the light. And the poet of pain, the philosopher of nothing, now speaks like a priest: the priest, so to speak, of irreligion.

He had said: Men, happy the flock that lies placidly in the light of the moon! She does not know her misery, she does not know she has to die. You know it, or mortals.

He had said: “Where all the other animals [126] die without fear, the stillness and the security of the soul are excluded in perpetuity from the last hour of man”.

Now he says:

The only human progress possible lies in proceeding with the knowledge of your destiny.

It is horror before nature that continually threatens you, and blindly afflicts you and extermination, which must be the basis, root, of justice and piety. And this horror must not be won by paying attention to deceptive promises; you must try it whole and absolute. Progressing human society can only be towards the truth, and the truth is this: death. Forward then to death!

But you want to move back.

And I tell you that you must move forward, you must cast illusions, you must acquire the awareness of your littleness, of your solitude, of your misery, of your fortuitous and ephemeral being.

Because from this conscience will come in you the appiamento of the odes and the frateral ire, still more serious than any other damage; the true love will come that will finally make you embrace among yourselves, turning out to be valid and ready and waiting for you in the alternate perils and in the anguish of the common war.

From this conscience will come, in short, goodness, as the smell of flower emerges from the desert of lava and ashes.

And look at the stars. Think, that it was a time when they were believed to be like small, atoms of light.

And the earth then seemed very great to its inhabitant who believed himself to be lord and end to the whole.

Instead it is the earth that is small, minimal, a grain of sand. To believe the great earth and the small stars; or believe, as they are, the number of stars and the infinite number of stars and the earth the least: here are the two religions, here are the scotos and the phôs, the darkness and the light.

Look at the exterminating Vesevo, the glow of flaming lava in the darkness, the torch wandering in an empty palace, watching death.

Look at her face without bowing her head and without proudly erecting it. You will feel the need to be at peace with your fellow men.

And do not say that yes, that everyone knows that they are mortal, but that no one has ever held back from evil.

I tell you that it is not enough to know it, one must have saturated the soul and not have in the soul that this.

They also know, men, that the stars are great, or to say the best they are left with idle assent to the learned who claim it. They know it, but they do not think it yet. It will come time that they will think it.

It is good to hope for the good or for the less evil of the human race; it is good to hope that the men who began as the crude with not knowing that they were mortal and who then distinguished themselves from their crude, can only be said to know that they are mortal, but gradually cowardly have concealed or concealed this knowledge, they tried, unhappy! to kill death and defraud fate; they will courageously put themselves back on their way: in the dark, solitary way, all ruin, all ash dark, ahead of which the flame of death flickers, on which the stars of the infinite shine.

Unhappy you are, you will be unhappy; but then, your companions on the way, you will love them, or mortal men.

This is what Giacomo Leopardi says in his posthumous poem. That he says the truth I do not want to affirm or deny. But let’s consider. He is a [129] precursor. After the fall of the Napoleonic empire and before every Italic movement, he burst forth in his fateful cry:

the weapons, here the weapons!

foretold Vittorio Emanuele and Garibaldi. But it also went further. Even before Italy had begun to do, he could hear the sound of a distant tide. What we now hear in deep terror, with deep sadness, with profound doubt, he felt then.

Italy is made, and the presentiment of a disaster passes on our leaders; of a disaster that is about to seize mankind; of a disaster against which, having made Italy it is for us as for the peasant to have covered the wheat under the threat of a storm that will take away the house and everything.

He had felt this same premonition ever since, and for this reason he also cast his fateful cry: Do not blame men or men for your miseries! Embrace yourself, or fools: love each other.

He invited us to go up with him to that height of thought and pain from which he who looks down, sees only that.

Did we get on again?

In any case, I feel that this is the word that humanity must hoard, because it is made to suppress hatred. There is another, of words, which has this same end, although it comes from all other premises. The word of despair and that of hope resemble. One can only argue, which one is to be more effective; but they resemble.

I remember that for me (you do not seem irreverent here a memory of my childhood), before the broom was the flower of the desert, the flower of negation, it was what we most reaped, we children, for the greps of Urbino , in the religious holidays of the summer. Those days we wore on our afternoon strolls, after the blessing celebrated in the church of the college with so many candles and flowers and sounds and chants a sweet and solemn, tender and new, like a scent of incense, a ‘ echo of hymns, in our pious heart. We undressed the brooms on our race path; then all together in the main road we painted a garland with the fragrant gold petals, with the so naive and large initials in the middle: I. M. I. Who was to put his foot on that carpet of glory, made of children, broom flower? The sun was behind the Cesane and the host returned to the college through the streets already shaded. And the carpet? It remained golden there in the middle of the road, while twilight burned in the mountains.

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When I read the most beautiful poem of the Marches poet in that hermit Marche region [131], when I read:

Your solitary clusters around spargi,

Odorata broom,

Happy with deserts,

I felt a scent of religion and love in my soul. I felt that something sweet and solemn, tender and new, like a perfume of incense, like an echo of hymns, of which our heart was full on the evening of a party. The flower was always that, and to me it did not seem contradiction between these words that are a proclamation of pain, and others that were news of joy: between this apocalypse and that gospel.

The flower of the broom seemed here to await in the twilight the foot of a prophet, of an apostle, of a distant God; forth there the unquenchable flame of the destroying nature, waiting patiently for its mortal end. But the same perfume came out of it, just as the two laws ended both with a teaching of love, forgiveness and peace!

Is it a day like any other the day that closes a century and opens a new one? Is it necessary, that day, to raise to the sun, to the old and young god of our people, a more fervid and higher hymn?

Sol of life that with the flamed cart

bring and conceal the day, which is always another one

always that you are, do not see Rome

nothing bigger!

Behold: to repeat or renew that hymn, one should wait for the end not only of a century, but of a worldly year, after which it is palingenesia; after which

The Virgin already returns, the good time is already of Saturn:

genus of men new from the cerulean pinnacles descends;

with which

Faith and Peace, Honor and Ancient Costume ed

dares the neglected Virtue come back and

already the universal Wealth is shown

full of gifts.

Is this renaissance to be expected with the new century? justice and peace, goodness and wealth? No Sibilla spoke. Or she wrote her vaticinium in palm leaves, and set them in order; but the wind confused them and carried away. Who can get more carmina? Not me, nor others; and I, as much as others, in trying to induce ideas and facts of the dying century, a precon of the century that is born, we will seem to read one after the other the leaves of a prophecy dispersed by the wind. On this we read peace, on that war, on another love, on another fight; again, science, again, faith. What will be? We know that we will have secular ludi, more grandiose than those celebrated by Augustus and who sang Horace; will we have in Paris (in the new Rome?) the universal labor festival. And before the end of the century we will have the conference on disarmament called by Cesare Russo (from the new Augustus?). The century dies well, the century is born well:

Faith and Peace, Honor and Ancient Costume ed

dares the neglected Virtue come back and

already the universal Wealth is shown

full of gifts.

Oh! the men look around, looking for the best Horace you sing the most beneficial Augustus and the most magnificent Rome … And this poet does not dare yet, perhaps, remove the harp from the nail, and sits aside and the glorious head falls down. and murmurs: Is not my hymn, slow and sublime, interrupted by howls of hatred? Perhaps not the sacred tinkling of the strings will be concluded by cannon rumbles? And the poet continues to meditate: Can I sing the triumph of the ancient faith? But if in many centuries she has not succeeded in destroying the bad yeast for which both colonial, national and ethnic wars are now feared; what has she triumphed? Will I sing the pride of new science? But if she, with her other wonderful and refounded benefits, has even manufactured the airships, so it must rain the destruction from the sky, and the submarine boats, so from the bottom of the sea the destruction has to erupt, of what, of what ever can she boast?

No! no! the poet adds: I could not sing with true, profound, superhuman inspiration, if not the goodness, if not the integration of the human race, if not the true and perpetual amalgamation of my semifinal brothers. And you are no less proud, or my brothers, because, with the help of Science, extend with the steel of the dagger or the sword the reach of your nails, or increase and widen, with the funereal noise of the bomb or torpedo, the power of your roar. And you are no less proud, or my brothers, if, with the sweet suggestion of faith, you make vain the discovery that made men proud of you: the dismal but beneficial discovery … that you are mortal.

Because it was that, to use a word dear to one of the last and most sweet poets of faith, that was your ascension; an ascension which, as is the fact of these words, we could not say whether it was for the up or down; you were on the brutes for thought, and below, for happiness. Oh! and you aspired to descend; and always, from time to time, you have recalled your fugitive thought to earth, like swarming bees from the apiary, with the sound of the cymbals and the timpani of your bacchanalia. Oh! you wanted to forget the unhappy discovery; and always, now and now, you are stunned and forgotten; and so you remake similar to the brutes and, in the oblivion of death, give death. Every time you come down from the undauntable height, to which you were ascended, you find in your fingers the old claws and in the jaws the old fangs and in the heart the old ferocity of cannibals. Like the giant of the fable, in touching earth, falling, you resume your pugnacious strength; and you do not remember if you are not brutes, and you believe you are not born, like them, if you do not fight.

And now, now that you could believe that you had spread wings, now that you could hope that the falls from above and return to the brute had to be increasingly rare and singular, now … here you are all on the ground, how many men, how many classes, how many peoples, how many races are you, here you are on the ground, rolling, panting, longing in the spasm of hatred! This is the ancient ascension!

A poet of our century I do not think he can speak otherwise than that. And I believe that anybody could answer it by saying, “But you are guilty of this: you and your companions. You are a poet, and not others, the one who must undress the men of their wounds! You are an Orpheus who sits idle under a Rodopian tree: someone approaches you and asks you, why do not you sing; and you answer: because the fairs are proud. But you owe, Orpheus, tame them, lead them behind you, these beasts, and make them men with the persuasive virtue of your song. In truth if the moral condition of men in our century has not improved, so that a proposal for disarmament can be considered as an opportunity, intentional or not, of war, and a universal feast of work can not be believed if not a pause before the run-up, a moment of silence before the hurricane, the last hesitation before the massacre and the extermination; if such is the state of human spirits this evening and this dawn of the century; the fault should be given mainly to those who have the mission of priest and peacemaker. And this is the poet and poetry. It is to be understood that the concept of poetry and poetry should not be too limited; one should not incarnate it in this or that too slight semblance; indeed we must forget many things and people, and many many many verses, and remember, indeed, only one thing: that the poet is that and poetry is what makes science conscious. Science can tell poetry: I have worked, and you do not: from my work did not born all the good that it had, and it was born also of the evil that it did not have, because you did not cooperate with me. I gave the grain; but you did not make bread. I have placed the bunch; but you did not squeeze the wine. I have furnished the truth; but you did not nourish the souls. I can not do everything alone.