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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Leopardian Interlude (3)

[Giacomo Leopardi's Dialogue between Torquato Tasso and His Home Genius, 1824; follows]


GENIUS   Which thing do you think is sweeter: seeing the woman you love, or thinking of her?

TASSO  I don't know. Surely, when she was in front of me, she looked like a woman. From afar she appeared, and already appears, a goddess.

GENIUS   Such goddesses are so benign that, when someone approaches them, they immediately fold their divinity, and tear off their rays and pocket them so as not to dazzle the mortals getting near.

TASSO    You are sadly right. But don't you also think it is a great sin of women that, when put to the test, they prove so different from what we imagined?

GENIUS   I don't get what their fault is supposed to be, for being made of flesh and blood instead of ambrosia and nectar. What thing on earth has just a nuance or one-thousandth of the perfection you all think women should possess? It also seems quite odd to me that, while not marvelling at men being men, i.e., not very praiseworthy and not very amiable creatures, you then cannot understand why women are not angels.

TASSO   In spite of this, I am dying to see her again and speak to her.

GENIUS   Tonight, I will lead her before you in a dream, as beautiful as Youth, and so kind that you will take heart, and will talk to her much more candidly and fluently(*) than ever before. Indeed, you finally will take her hand, and she, gazing at you, will instill such sweetness into sour soul that you will feel overwhelmed. For the whole day of tomorrow, each time you will remember this dream, you will feel your heart jump with tenderness.

. . .  to be continued . . .

(*) Tasso had problems with stammering, sometimes.