18 Nov Fragments
by Giacomo Leopardi
I round the threshold wandering here,
Vainly the tempest and the rain invoke,
That they may keep my lady prisoner.
And yet the wind was howling in the woods,
The roving thunder bellowing in the clouds,
Before the dawn had risen in the sky.
O ye dear clouds! O heaven! O earth! O trees!
My lady goes! Have mercy, if on earth
Unhappy lovers ever mercy find!
Awake, ye whirlwinds! storm-charged clouds, awake,
O’erwhelm me with your floods, until the sun
To other lands brings back the light of day!
Heaven opens; the wind falls; the grass, the leaves
Are motionless, around; the dazzling sun
In my tear-laden eyes remorseless shines.
The light of day was fading in the west,
The smoke no more from village chimneys curled,
Nor voice of man, nor bark of dog was heard;
When she, obedient to Love’s rendezvous,
Had reached the middle of a plain, than which
No other more bewitching could be found.
The moon on every side her lustre shed,
And all in robes of silver light arrayed
The trees with which the place was garlanded.
The rustling boughs were murmuring to the wind,
And, blending with the plaintive nightingale,
A rivulet poured forth its sweet lament.
The sea shone in the distance, and the fields
And groves; and slowly rising, one by one,
The summits of the mountains were revealed.
In quiet shade the sombre valley lay,
While all the little hills around were clothed
With the soft lustre of the dewy moon.
The maiden kept the silent, lonely path,
And gently passing o’er her face, she felt
The motion of the perfume-laden breeze.
If she were happy, it were vain to ask;
The scene delighted her, and the delight
Her heart was promising, was greater still.
How swift your flight, O lovely hours serene!
No other pleasure here below endures,
Or lingers with us long, save hope alone.
The night began to change, and dark became
The face of heaven, that was so beautiful,
And all her pleasure now was turned to fear.
An angry cloud, precursor of the storm,
Behind the mountains rose, and still increased,
Till moon or star no longer could be seen.
She saw it spreading upon every side,
And by degrees ascending through the air,
And now with its black mantle covering all.
The scanty light more faint and faint became;
The wind, meanwhile, was rising in the grove,
That on the farther side the spot enclosed;
And, every moment, was more boisterous;
Till every bird, awaking in its fright,
Amidst the trembling leaves was fluttering.
The cloud, increasing still, unto the coast
Descended, so that one extremity
The mountains touched, the other touched the sea.
And now from out its black and hollow womb,
The pattering rain-drops, falling fast, were heard,
The sound increasing as the cloud drew near.
And round her now the glancing lightning flashed
In fearful mood, and made her shut her eyes;
The ground was black, the air a mass of flame.
Her trembling knees could scarce her weight sustain;
The thunder roared with a continuous sound,
Like torrent, plunging headlong from the cliff.
At times she paused, the dismal scene to view,
In blank dismay; then on she ran again,
Her hair and clothes all streaming in the wind.
The cruel wind beat hard against her breast,
And rushing fiercely, with its angry breath,
The cold drops dashed, remorseless, in her face.
The thunder, like a beast, assaulted her,
With terrible, unintermitting roar;
And more and more the rain and tempest raged.
And from all sides in wild confusion flew
The dust and leaves, the branches and the stones,
With hideous tumult, inconceivable.
Her weary, blinded eyes now covering,
And folding close her clothes against her breast,
She through the storm her fearful path pursued.
But now the lightning glared so in her face,
That, overcome by fright at last, she went
No farther, and her heart within her sank;
And back she turned. And, even as she turned,
The lightning ceased to flash, the air was dark,
The thunder’s voice was hushed, the wind stood still,
And all was silent round, and she,—at rest!