Preface to the Myricae

Raffaello Tesi

Last, last, these lyrics on my father’s grave!… They are like flapping of birds, rustling of cypresses, far singing of bells: they don’t scorn a graveyard. For some tears, for some sobs, I hope to find forgiveness, since here less than elsewhere the reader will be able or will want to say: what do I care of your sorrow?

Oh man, you who reads, men were the ones who opened that grave. And there inside, a whole thriving family found itself. And the grave (I recall an African custom) doesn’t stand out in the desert for the pure white stones of revenge: it is crude, gloomy, black.

But the man whose life has been darkened by that blackness, calls thee to bless life, that is beautiful, all beautiful; well, it would be; if we didn’t spoil it to us and to the others. Beautiful, it would be; even in the crying that were nevertheless serene dew, not rainstorm roar, even in the moment last, when our eyes tired of gazing, close themselves as if to gather and place the vision in the soul, for ever. But men loved the darkness more than the light, and someone else’s evil more than their own good. And about the voluntary evil, they give, wrongly, blame to nature, very sweet mother, who even in passing away seems to cradle and deaden us. Oh! Let her be, the one who knows what she does and she loves us.

These are the words which I’m saying now with a voice not even sure and clear, and which I will repeat better as time goes by; may be of some gentleness for her the thought that these words might be of hate, and are of love.

Giovanni Pascoli
Livorno, March 1894

Translated from Italian by Raffaello Tesi.
The original version appears in the book “Myricae” by Giovanni Pascoli, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1963.
An electronic version of the book is maintained by the Library of Italian Literature.