Mare  

Giovanni Pascoli  

M’affaccio alla finestra, e vedo il mare:
vanno le stelle, tremolano l’onde.
Vedo stelle passare, onde passare:
un guizzo chiama, un palpito risponde.  

Ecco sospira l’acqua, alita il vento:
sul mare è apparso un bel ponte d’argento.  

Ponte gettato sui laghi sereni,
per chi dunque sei fatto e dove meni?  
Sea  

Giovanni Pascoli  

I look out my window, I see the sea:
a flitting of stars, a quivering of waves.
I see stars passing, waves passing;
a flicker calls, a throb replies.  

Now the water sighs, the winds exhales:
on the sea a silver bridge appears.  

Bridge thrown over silent lakes,
for whom are you made, where do you lead?    

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2022    

In the collection of poems, Myricae (Latin for “small tree”), Pascoli sings of nature. His poems, known as “del fanciullino” (“of the child” from the title of his work about poetry published in 1897*), express the beauty of everyday objects and the nature that surrounds them; and he views these things with the wonder of the child, thus uncovering the simplicity and purity held within them. The poems are usually fairly short and simple. They are snapshots, so to speak, of life but they hold a mystery, the mystery of life and death, a celebration of small things in which the author finds protection from the harsh world. They are the “nido”, the nest, for the child, the orphan** Pascoli was (he lost his father at the age of 12 and his mother shortly afterwards) and would remain forever in his heart.

In the analysis of the poem, many scholars have asked themselves what the silver bridge that appears over the waters may represent. For me, when taking into account Pascoli’s life and biography, and the main themes that inspire his work, that bridge is like an outstretched hand. He is reaching beyond the material and towards the spiritual world, towards his father and mother, perhaps, and the safety and protection that was taken from him at such a young age.

As always, his seemingly simple poems are filled with mystery and allow for an infinite number of interpretations.   

I like the idea of a hand, Pascoli’s, stretching towards those he loved over a shimmering sea and of a connection between this life and the one beyond.

Of the poetic devices used we find: personification  v. 4: “un guizzo chiama, un pulpito risponde” [a flicker calls, a throb replies], v. 5: “sospira l’acqua, alita il vento” [the water sighs, the wind exhales] ; parallelism v. 2: “vanno le stelle, tremolano l’onde”, v. 3: “vedo stelle passare, onde passare”, v. 4: “un guizzo chiama, un pulpito risponde”, v. 5: “sospira l’acqua, alita il vento”; epanalexis (repetition) v. 3: “Vedo stelle passare, onde passare”; assonance and consonance; rhyme; and apostrophe vv. 8: “per chi dunque sei fatto e dove meni?” [for whom are you made, where do you lead?].

*An excerpt in English can be found here: https://paralleltexts.blog/2014/12/22/il-fanciullinothe-little-child-by-giovanni-pascoli/

** https://paralleltexts.blog/2021/09/04/giovanni-pascoli-orfano-orphan/

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