Il gelsomino notturno

Giovanni Pascoli

E s’aprono i fiori notturni,
nell’ora che penso a’ miei cari.
Sono apparse in mezzo ai viburni
le farfalle crepuscolari.

Da un pezzo si tacquero i gridi:
là sola una casa bisbiglia.
Sotto l’ali dormono i nidi,
come gli occhi sotto le ciglia.

Dai calici aperti si esala
l’odore di fragole rosse.
Splende un lume là nella sala.
Nasce l’erba sopra le fosse.

Un’ape tardiva sussurra
trovando già prese le celle.
La Chioccetta* per l’aia azzurra
va col suo pigolìo di stelle.

Per tutta la notte s’esala
l’odore che passa col vento.
Passa il lume su per la scala;
brilla al primo piano: s’è spento…

È l’alba: si chiudono i petali
un poco gualciti; si cova,
dentro l’urna molle e segreta,
non so che felicità nuova.


Night-blooming jasmine

Giovanni Pascoli

And nocturnal flowers blossom
when my loved ones I remember.
Among the clusters of viburnum
crepuscular butterflies appear.

Quietness has replaced the bustle:
over there one lone house buzzes.
Underneath wings the young nestle
like eyes underneath eye-lashes.

From open cups comes a bouquet
of ripe strawberries blushing red.
A lamp glistens in the hall there.
Above the tombs the grasses spread.

A tardy bumblebee mutters
for the cells have all been taken.
The Columba* in the azure
yard, chicks peep a constellation.

Through the long night the sweet bouquet
sweeping moves with the wind.
The lamp-light moves up a stairway;
it flickers upstairs; then it’s gone…

It’s daybreak: the slightly wilted
petals close; they are nurturing,
inside the soft and secret urn,
I know not what new elation.


Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019

This poem is one of the best examples of Pascoli’s symbolism. It starts with “And” as if the poet were picking up from somewhere else, a recurring thought that he has treated often: the thought of his dead loved ones. In this poem, however, it is linked to a joyful occasion, the wedding of a dear friend.

About the poem: Night-blooming jasmine opens when night-time approaches. The poet’s thought goes to the loved ones he has lost. All is quiet: silence falls on the countryside, one house alone is still buzzing with sound, like a nest. (Sotto l’ali dormono i nidi/ Underneath wings the young nestle…like eyes underneath eyelashes). From the cups of the flowers comes a scent of red strawberries (synesthesia: scent – smell – is increased by the colour – sight – red) While in the house the light shines, grasses grow on tombs (oxymoron, the symbol of death into symbols of life). A bumblebee arrives muttering (onomatopoeia), and finds all the cells taken (the poets own sense of exclusion, perhaps?). The constellation Chioccetta (*which I have changed to Columba because in Italian Chiocetta is both a young hen and the constellation; Columba in English is also a constellation, and the Latin name means dove) shines in the azure sky (aia/ farmyard). The shimmering lights recall the image of the young hen with her chicks which peep stars (pigolio di stelle: synesthesia the light of the stars recalls the peeping of the chicks). Throughout the night the scent/ bouquet of jasmine fills the air. The light in the house moves upstairs and then goes out. Is it referred to the newlyweds? Possibly, because as dawn approaches and the flowers close, the poet alludes to the “soft and secret urn” inside which new life, and new happiness, will grow. –M.C.

Painting: Carlos Ramirez, “Night Blooming Jasmine on the Porch”

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2 thoughts on “Il gelsomino notturno/ The night-blooming jasmine by Giovanni Pascoli

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