Nevicata Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in Italian Language

Snow is dominating our lives here in Italy at the moment. This winter started off unusually mild, but now it’s hitting us with everything it’s got. A sprinkling of snow has even fallen on the small island of Pantelleria, just 70 km from the North African coast! The snow does, however, have its aesthetic aspect, having always been a source of inspiration for poets, artists and musicians. Here, the great Italian poet Guido Gozzano describes his impression of a nevicata (snowfall):


di Guido Gozzano

Dalle profondità dei cieli tetri
scende la bella neve sonnolenta,
tutte le cose ammanta come spettri:
scende, risale, impetuosa, lenta.
Di su, di giù, di qua, di là s’avventa
alle finestre, tamburella i vetri…
Turbina densa in fiocchi di bambagia,
imbianca i tetti ed i selciati lordi,
piomba, dai rami curvi, in blocchi sordi…
Nel caminetto crepita la bragia…


by Guido Gozzano

From the depths of the bleak skies
falls the beautiful sleepy snow,
it cloaks all things as if they were ghosts:
falls, rises, impetuous, slow.
Up and down, here and there, it throws itself
at the windows, tapping on the panes…
It whirls in dense flakes of cotton wool,
whitens the roofs and the filthy paving,
drops, from the curving branches, in mute blocks…
In the fireplace the embers crackle…

Guido Gozzano was born in Torino on the 19th of December 1883. He studied law at the University of Torino, but never graduated, preferring to attend the lessons of Italian literature held by the poet Arturo Graf. It was during this period that he started writing poems. Gozzano is regarded as the main member of the literary group known as i Crepuscolari (The Twilighters – from the word crepusculo – twilight), which flourished between 1905 and 1915.  Their literary style was quite unlike the rhetoric, heroic writing of the poet D’Annunzio. In his poems Guido combines an aesthetic search for beauty with a sense of pain and sadness. He also wrote many poems and stories for children.

In 1907 Gozzano’s already weak health suddenly worsened due to pleurisy, forcing the poet to spend the rest of his solitary life on the Italian Riviera. In 1911 he travelled to India looking for a climate more suited to his breathing problems. Although he did not get better the journey inspired his final work, which was published posthumously in 1917.  Gozzano died on the 9th of August 1916, aged just thirty two.

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  1. Tom McGohey:

    Hello Serena, I’m looking for a Gozzano poem quoted by Umberto Eco in his essay “Why the Island Is Never Found.” (frm collection “Inventing the Enemy”) The first line, I think, begins “But more beautiful than all, the Island Never found: … ” Eco does not include title of poem. Do you know this poem? Any suggestions much appreciated!
    Tom McGohey

  2. Tom McGohey:

    Grazie, Serena! I’m afraid my limited Italian from Army days stationed in Vicenza back in the ’70s has diminished to embarrassing mumblings, but I still enjoy thumbing through my Italian dictionary. I’ll take a crack at it, and in meantime keep on searching for translations. Thanks for your help! Tom

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