Italian Language Blog

A Poem For November Posted by on Nov 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

Here’s a beautiful poem written by Giovanni Pascoli in 1891, which perfectly describes these early November days.

In this poem, published in the poetry collection Myricae, Pascoli describes the period from the 2nd of November (I morti = All souls) to the 11th of November, San Martino, normally referred as l’estate di San Martino (Saint Martin’s Summer). In fact, around this time of year we usually have a spell of nice weather. Here, Pascoli describes the sensation of spring conjured up by this warm spell so late in the year. But when we look around, instead of blossom we see naked autumnal trees, and instead of the chirping of birds, we hear the sound of falling leaves.

Novembre, di Giovanni Pascoli
(November, by Giovanni Pascoli)

Gemmea l’aria, il sole così chiaro
che tu ricerchi gli albicocchi in fiore,
e del prunalbo l’odorino amaro
senti nel cuore…

The air is clear as a gem, the sun so bright
that you search for apricot trees in blossom,
and feel in your heart
the bitter odour of the hawthorn …

Ma secco è il pruno, e le stecchite piante
di nere trame segnano il sereno,
e vuoto il cielo, e cavo al piè sonante
sembra il terreno.

But the bush is dry, and the stick-like plants
draw black lines on the azure,
and the sky is empty, and under the stomping foot
the ground seems hollow.

Silenzio, intorno: solo, alle ventate,
odi lontano, da giardini ed orti,
di foglie un cader fragile. È l’estate,
fredda, dei morti.

Silence, all around: only in the gusts of wind
you hear, from far away gardens and allotments,
a frail falling of leaves.
It’s the cold summer of the dead.

This year, those moments of ‘false spring’ have been few and far between. The weather has been very changeable and we’ve had some pretty severe storms which have caused a lot of damage in certain parts of Italy.
However, last week, on the 2nd of November, we went to visit our friends Bruno and Daniela who live in the countryside just south of Pontremoli. Avevano messo acqua (they’d predicted rain. Literally: they’d put water), as they say round here, but it turned out to be a typical day of l’estate di San Martino with blue sky and temperatures in the mid 20’s (Celsius), and we were all rather disorientated. E’ novembre, ma sembra proprio primavera! we said. Va benissimo, approfittiamone!

You can find out more about l’estate di San Martino by clicking on the following link: Facciamo San Martino

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  1. Raffaella Zizza:

    I have been to Italy many times during this time as my daughter and her family are there. Beautifully describes that time of year. Thank you!

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