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I Pastori di Gabriele d’Annunzio Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 in Literature

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.

I Pastori

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?

The Shepherds

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?

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  1. Bodach:

    Dear Serena,

    May I have permission to reprint this article, exactly as you’ve written it, giving you credit and linking back to this original post?

    Many thanks,


    • Serena:

      @Bodach Salve Bodach, Thanks for asking and yes you have my permission. I find my posts all over the internet, very often with no credit given, or even my name removed. It just seems to me good manners to ask the author’s permission, so well done for setting a good example 🙂

      A presto, Serena

  2. Allan Mahnke:

    Che bella! Grazie!

  3. Thomas:

    This was beautiful. And I really want to say that your blog is fantastic. My Italian is starting to “loosen”, much thanks to your help, and that’s fun!

    • Serena:

      @Thomas Salve Thomas, grazie per il complimento. Sono contenta che il mio blog ti è d’aiuto.

      Saluti da Serena

  4. andreas:

    Salve Serena
    Che bellezza tan profonda. Leggendolo, come se io seguissi i pastori.
    E le perole dialettali sono come in spagnolo ‘avellano’ vuol dire nocciolo. Anche’verga’ e’ un bastone, ma puo’ anche significare il pene.

  5. Bodach:

    Thank you for allowing me to reproduce your article.

    You can see it here…


    • Serena:

      @Bodach Ciao Bodach (Noel). Thanks for writing nice things about my blog. I notice that in the photo that you have included of a gregge (flock) of sheep there is also un cane pastore maremmano. This type of dog is also used by the shepherds here in Lunigiana. Our local shepherd leaves the pastori maremmani in charge of the sheep together with the border collies. The collies herd the sheep from pasture to pasture, and the pastori maremmani chase off any potential threat. It’s really quite impressive watching them work together. The maremmani actually blend in amongst the sheep, often lying with them in the field. However, if you get too close they will spring up and give you a good bark to see you off!

      A presto, Serena

  6. Bodach:

    I’m glad you liked my post and thanks again for allowing me to reproduce your excellent article.

    I took the photograph on the walk up to Rocca Calascio (AQ) a few years ago. On that day the pastore maremmano was very gentle and didn’t bark at all. But this year on Campo Imperatore I was warned off by two pastori maremmani when I came too close to a flock of sheep. They are fantastic dogs. Seeing them work with the shepherds and the flock is a privilege.

    A presto,

    Bodach (Noel)

  7. Judy:

    Sono proprio tornata da Santo Stefano in Sessanio, dove ho passato dieci giorni di studio della lingua Italiana. Dopo aver’ letto e discusso “I Pastori”, il nostro gruppo ha visitato la casa natale d’Annunzio a Pescara. Che bell’ esperienza! Le lettere d’Annunzio ai suoi sono affisso (?) dappertutto, e sono bellissime. Vorrei trovarle stampate (in print?) Suggerimenti?

  8. Giovanni:

    Fantastic…I am from Pescara and it is so familiar to me. In Abruzzo you can still see the few “original” Pastori left. Thanks for posting it in english.

    • Geoff:

      @Giovanni Salve Giovanni,

      Molti anni fa ho visitato la casa natale di d’Annunzio, con l’interessantissima sezione dedicata ai pastori, ma non ho visto nessun vero pastore.

      Saluti da Serena

  9. Carla:


    We just returned from a visit to my husband’s ancestral village of Caramanico Terme. While there, I purchased a rosary in a small shop for his aunt, whose father and grandfather came to America from that village in the late 1800’s. The card attached to the rosary had the last stanza of this poem printed on it and I was attempting, using my limited Italian skills, to give her some idea of what it said. I was thrilled to find the entire poem, with translation, on your blog. It’s such a lovely description of the timeless bond between man, animal and the land. I am now able to send her the complete poem in English…grazie mille!

    • Serena:

      @Carla Salve Carla, sono molto contenta che il mio blog ti sia utile. Auguri!

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