'So my mind sinks in this immensity:
and foundering is sweet in such a sea'
Revisited and reorganized over his lifetime, this extraordinary work was described by Leopardi as a 'reliquary' for his ideas, feelings and deepest preoccupations. It encompasses drastic shifts in tone and material, and includes early personal elegies and idylls; radical public poems on history and politics; philosophical satires; his great, dark, despairing odes such as 'To Silvia'; and later masterworks such as 'The Setting of the Moon', written not long before Leopardi's death. Infused with classical allusion and nostalgia, yet disarmingly modern in their spare, meditative style and their sense of alienation and scepticism, the Canti influenced the following two centuries of Western lyric poetry, and inspired thinkers and writers from Schopenhauer and Nietzsche to Beckett and Lowell.
Jonathan Galassi's direct new translation sensitively responds to the musicality of the Canti, while his introduction discusses the paradoxes of Leopardi's life and work.
GIACOMO LEOPARDI (1798-1837), Italy(1)s first and greatest modern poet, was also a critic, philosopher and philologist. His enormous Zibaldone, or philosophical and critical notebook, which many consider one of the great books of the 19th century, will be published in Penguin Classics in 2012. JONATHAN GALASSI has also translated the poetry of Eugenio Montale and Primo Levi and has published several books of his own poems.