The Lonely Sparrow
by Giacomo Leopardi
Thou from the top of yonder antique tower,
O lonely sparrow, wandering, hast gone,
Thy song repeating till the day is done,
And through this valley strays the harmony.
How Spring rejoices in the fields around,
And fills the air with light,
So that the heart is melted at the sight!
Hark to the bleating flocks, the lowing herds!
In sweet content, the other birds
Through the free sky in emulous circles wheel,
In pure enjoyment of their happy time:
Thou, pensive, gazest on the scene apart,
Nor wilt thou join them in the merry round;
Shy playmate, thou for mirth hast little heart;
And with thy plaintive music, dost consume
Both of the year, and of thy life, the bloom.
Alas, how much my ways
Resemble thine! The laughter and the sport,
That fill with glee our youthful days,
And thee, O love, who art youth’s brother still,
Too oft the bitter sigh of later years,
I care not for; I know not why,
But from them ever distant fly:
Here in my native place,
As if of alien race,
My spring of life I like a hermit pass.
This day, that to the evening now gives way,
Is in our town an ancient holiday.
Hark, through the air, that voice of festal bell,
While rustic guns in frequent thunders sound,
Reverberated from the hills around.
In festal robes arrayed,
The neighboring youth,
Their houses leaving, o’er the roads are spread;
They pleasant looks exchange, and in their hearts
Rejoice. I, lonely, in this distant spot,
Along the country wandering,
Postpone all pleasure and delight
To some more genial time: meanwhile,
As through the sunny air around I gaze,
My brow is smitten by his rays,
As after such a day serene,
Dropping behind yon distant hills,
He vanishes, and seems to say,
That thus all happy youth must pass away.
Thou, lonely little bird, when thou
Hast reached the evening of the days
Thy stars assign to thee,
Wilt surely not regret thy ways;
For all thy wishes are
Obedient to Nature’s law. But ah!
If I, in spite of all my prayers,
Am doomed the hateful threshold of old age
To cross, when these dull eyes will give
No response to another’s heart,
The world to them a void will be,
Each day become more full of misery,
How then, will this, my wish appear
In those dark hours, that dungeon drear?
My blighted youth, my sore distress,
Alas, will then seem happiness!