Italy Literature – The Foscolo

The Foscolo. – In Ortis , the writer’s soul is distorted by exotic eighteenth-century make-up in the representation of an aesthetically incoherent character and in the emphasis of a declamatory and ostentatiously “poetic” prose. Only here and there does that soul shine forth in simple frankness of form, tender as it was, of domestic affections and human charity amid the Rousseauian pessimism, pervaded by a profound sense of religiosity among the rationalistic denials of the Encyclopedia, disdainful of all cowardice, in love with the good, full of heroic faith in virtue amid the aridity of sensism which proclaimed every moral value an illusion. And in most of the twelve sonnets and in the  Sepolcri the soul of Foscolo becomes a magnificent form of original poetry.. Amorous and painful, the sonnets represent with a moving efficacy and sincerity the passion that overwhelms and the tired melancholy that haunts the spirit of the poet. Poems of virile, calm, solemn pain and at the same time of comfort and hope, the  Sepolcri they are dominated by the idea of ​​the fatal unhappiness of men, and around this idea they gather a very wide wave of sensitivity, which, human and homeland, leaps to the imagination, composed in a vigorous density of images, in a wide harmony of sounds. An air of tragic elegy exhales, broken by blasts of epic, which sound high and wide in the second part, calmed here and there by lucid horizons, sublimated by that profound consciousness of human spirituality that rises straight with progressive intensity of passion from the beginning at the end of the poem and seals the aesthetic and conceptual unity.

With the maturing of life experiences, the sense of pain, the pessimistic conception of being, the passions come, not attenuating, but deepening (the sonnets), and while on the one hand they are placated in the reintegration of the spiritual world and in the restored cult of illusions (the  Sepolcri ), on the other hand feel the cathartic action of beauty; and the soul of the poet, who has already overcome his pain, is calmed in the contemplation of the strong measured harmonic classical world: together with the sonnets, odes are born; the  Graces succeed the  Sepulchres  . In both, there is a display of Alexandrian technical virtuosity and refinement, and in the  Graces also artifice of construction and mythological allegories; but in the odes, especially in the one  For the healed friend , on the tempered passion and posed in classical composure, there is a sense of religious emotion in front of the vision of ancient beauty recreated and contemplated by the poet, and in the  Graces the rite celebrated by the three divas among the aerial hills of Bellosguardo assumes the expressive virtue of an almost mystical elevation of the spirit, purified in the cult of a world of goodness, wisdom, beauty, where harmony dominates supreme ruler. Thus Foscolo’s poetry involves the whole complex plot of reality, and represents in moving union the opposite motives of life and death, and that not just as pain, but as will, and this not just as a synthesis of all evil, but as the beginning of a life beyond life.

With the unfinished hymns to the  Graces , the poet Foscolo ends. In England the poet yields to the critic and with  the Discourse on the text of the Divine Comedy , with the  Essays  on Petrarch and with many other writings, he establishes modern literary criticism; a criticism, historical in its foundation and therefore investigating the psychology and external life of writers, but supported by a lively feeling of poetry as a revelation and intensification of life.

The Leopards . – In 1827, according to Elaineqho, the same year as the  Betrothed , the Operette morali  came to light by Giacomo Leopardi; poetic form of a pessimistic conception of life comforted by faith, those; poetic form of a pessimistic doctrine devoid of any consolation, these. From the eighteenth-century sensism in which he was educated, Leopardi came to an arid materialism, in which all ideals, all moral values ​​were devalued and annulled as illusions, and life, devoid of an end, was reduced to “useless misery “. Except that his soul as a poet went back towards the ideal by the way of the regained awareness of human spirituality, because precisely the ability of man to fully understand and strongly feel his nothingness, was for him the best proof that one could wish for, of the greatness of the human intellect and of the height and nobility of man. Thus from the awareness of the eternal universal necessity of pain the illusions arose, which, dispelled by reasoning thought, found the reasons for their rebirth in thought itself and in feeling. And behold, in the idylls of youth the great poetry of a painful spirit shines as it takes comfort in a sweet abandonment to contemplation of nature; here in the Brutus minor , which is cited here to represent the oratory lyric, the poetry of heroism that camps fearlessly against the “marble numi” (the fatality of destiny) and senseless nature; here in  the nocturnal song of a wandering shepherd  the poetry of a soul proud of its harrowing discovery spreads from the tragic enclosure of every room; in the songs of remembrance groan the regret of the revalued illusions; and the ideal beauty, the love and joy of the brotherhood of men smile in the  dominant Thought , in  Love and  death , in the  Broom . Even the  Operette morali, exposition and defense in the form of an allegorical tale, of dialogue, of speech, of the author’s pessimistic thought, often animate with a lively breath of poetry and resolve the gloom of their negations in an exaltation of the condemned illusions and in the training of a life lived heroically, of dedication to love of neighbor, of the conscious resistance of the free spirit to the necessary blindness of nature. On the ruins sown by the destroying spirit of his creations (moral values) and therefore of himself, a new energy of the spirit is kindled, which in its destructive work feels itself. From  the pathos  of this overcoming comes the impetuous stream of Leopardi’s poetry.

Romantic in the spiritual discomfort that afflicts him for the contrast of reason and sentiment, romantic in his certain undisciplined metric forms and in the Lucianesque bizarre of his prose, Leopardi has something classic in some peregrinity of language that allows the writer to see under the poet, in the clarity of the fantastic vision and above all in that, more calculated than spontaneously inspired, eloquent lyricism, which with its Latinisms, its structural complications, its studied density of expression separates the simple and fresh frankness of the first idylls and the clear and natural height of the poems of the last decade.

Italy Literature - The Foscolo