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Yesterday it rained and rained all day and all night. This morning there is a new freshness in the air, and with it the feeling that the summer is drawing to an end. The seasonal change reminds me of a poem by Gabriele d’Annunzio entitled I Pastori (The Shepherds).
Gabriele d’Annunzio was born in Pescara (Abruzzi) in 1863. He was a poet, novelist, journalist, play writer, patriot, trend setter, and much more. He had many nicknames, amongst which was l’Imaginifico (The Creator of Imagery) due to his particular writing style which mixed together lesser known words such as verga instead of the more common bastone = stick, with words from dialect such as avellano instead of nocciolo = hazelnut. He twisted and created new words (such as erbal from erba = grass), and made use of numerous similes.
In this poem d’Annuzio (who by the time that he wrote it had moved to the north of Italy where he died in 1938) describes, with a sense of nostalgia, the seasonal migration of the Abruzzesi shepherds from the summer Alpine meadows down to the winter pastures on the coast of the Adriatic sea. I Pastori was published in 1903 in Alcyone, a collection of verses written between 1899 and 1903.
Settembre, andiamo. È tempo di migrare.
Ora in terra d’Abruzzi i miei pastori
lascian gli stazzi e vanno verso il mare:
scendono all’Adriatico selvaggio
che verde è come i pascoli dei monti.
Han bevuto profondamente ai fonti
alpestri, che sapor d’acqua natia
rimanga ne’ cuori esuli a conforto
che lungo illuda la lor sete in via.
Rinnovato hanno verga d’avellano.
E vanno pel tratturo antico al piano,
quasi per un erbal fiume silente
su le vestigia degli antichi padri.
O voce di colui che primamente
conosce il tremolar della marina!
Ora lungh’esso il litoral cammina
la greggia. Senza mutamento è l’aria.
Il sole imbionda sì la viva lana
che quasi dalla sabbia non divaria.
Isciacquio, calpestio, dolci rumori.
Ah perché non son io co’ miei pastori?
September, let’s go. It’s time to migrate.
Now in the land of Abruzzi my shepherds
leave the folds and go towards the sea:
they go down to the wild Adriatic
that is green like mountain pastures.
They’ve drunk deeply from the Alpine fonts,
so that the taste of their native water
may stay in their exiled hearts for comfort
to deceive their thirst along the way.
They’ve renewed their hazelnut sticks.
And they go along the ancient bridleway,
that is almost like a silent grassy river
in the traces of the ancient ancestors.
Oh voice of the one who first
discerns the shimmering of the sea!
Now along this coast moves the flock.
Without movement is the air.
The sun bleaches the living wool so that
it almost blends into the sand.
Swishing, stamping, sweet sounds.
Ah why am I not with my shepherds?