Giacomo Leopardi


(ita: Canti – Le ricordanze )


Canto XXII




Italian classical literature

Text translated into English



Giacomo Leopardi All the works > here



The “canti” by Giacomo Leopardi contain thirty-four lyrics composed by the poet between 1817 and 1836. The “Canti”, are considered the masterpiece of Giacomo Leopardi.

Among the poems by Giacomo Leopardi included in the “Canti” we remember:

The calm after the storm (ita: La quiete dopo la tempesta) which you can find on “yeyebook”, by clicking here.
“Night-time chant of a wandering Asian sheep-herder” (ita: il Canto notturno di un pastore errante dell’Asia), “The Lonely Sparrow” (ita: Il passero solitario),
To the moon (ita: Alla luna) proposed on yeyebook, by clicking here,
“To Silvia” (ita: A Silvia),  “The Broom” (ita: La ginestra),
The infinity (ita: L’infinito), one of the most representative poems of Leopardian poetry, which you can find on yeyebook, by clicking here.

“Saturday night in the village” (Il sabato del villaggio) which you can read on yeyebook by clicking here

Below you can read the full text of Giacomo Leopardi’s poem “Memories” translated into English.

You can read the full text poem “Memories” by Giacomo Leopardi in the original Italian language, on yeyebook, here.

In the menu at the top or on the side you can read the poetry “Memories” by Giacomo Leopardi, translated into other languages: French, German, Spanish, Chinese etc.

Enjoy reading and good memories!



O hope, hope, pleasant illusion

of those first years! Often in speech

I return to you: whom I can’t forget

despite time’s changes, and the tide

of thoughts and feelings.



Giacomo Leopardi


Canto XXII


Italian classical literature

Text translated into English




Lovely stars of the Plough, I never dreamed

I would return to gaze at you, as before,

sparkling above my father’s gardens,

or meditate on you, from the window

of the same house I lived in as a child,

where I saw an end to all my happiness.


What imaginings, what fancies the sight

of you, the lights of your company,

used to create then in my thoughts!

Then I used to sit silent on green grass,

spending the greater part of the evening,

watching the sky, hearing the croaking

of frogs far off in the countryside!


And the fireflies flickering here and there

in hedges, flowers, the breeze sighing

from scented roadways, the cypress trees,

that woodland: under my father’s roof

conversation echoed, and the calm work

of the servants.


What immense thoughts,

what sweet dreams breathed in me at the sight

of the distant ocean, those azure hills

that I can see from here, and that I hoped

to cross one day, imagining secret worlds

and arcane delights to support my existence!


Ignorant of my fate, how often

I wished to exchange this sad

naked life of mine, for death.



I never thought in my heart that in my green

youth I’d be condemned to waste away

in my barbarous native place, among a vile,

loutish race: where learning and wisdom

are foreign words, and a cause of mockery

and laughter: they hate and ignore me,


not just through envy, since they don’t think

me superior to them, but they consider

that I do think so, in my heart, even

though I give no sign of that to anyone.


Hidden, abandoned here, I spend my time,

without love, without life: becoming coarse,

perhaps, among this crowd of ill-wishers:

this place strips me of all pity and virtue,

and makes me scornful of all mankind, 


oppressed by the herd: and meanwhile

the hours of my dear youth fly by: dearer

than fame and laurels, dearer than the pure

light of day, or breathing: I lose you,

without delight, uselessly, in this

inhuman place, among my troubles,

O sole flower of my arid life.


The wind comes bringing the sound

of the hour striking from the clock tower.

I remember how it used to comfort me

when I was a child, in my darkened room,

waiting every night, in inexorable terror,

for dawn’s sighing.


Here there’s nothing I see

and feel that doesn’t stir visions inside me,

or fails to make some sweet memory rise.


In itself, sweet: but thoughts of the present

bring sorrow, vain desire for the past,

and its sadness, and the words: ‘I was’.


That lodge there, facing the last rays

of the sun, those painted walls, the cattle

they picture, and the daylight rising

on open country, offered my leisure

a thousand delights, while, wherever I was,

I had that powerful illusion, speaking with me,

at my side.


In these old rooms, lit

by the snow outside, while the wind

whistled round the wide casements,

our games and our shouting echoed,

at that age when the shameful, bitter

mystery of things appears to us full

of sweetness: the child, like

a naïve lover, sees deceptive life,

whole and un-tasted, and worships

the heavenly beauty he imagines.



O hope, hope, pleasant illusion

of those first years! Often in speech

I return to you: whom I can’t forget

despite time’s changes, and the tide

of thoughts and feelings.


I know that glory and honour are phantoms:

joy and goodness mere desire: life,

worthless misery, bears no fruit. Yet,

however void my years, dark and arid

my mortal state, Fate, I know, robs me

of little.


Ah, but whenever I think

of you again, O ancient hope of mine,

and of my first dear imaginings,

and then consider my vile, sad

life, and realise that death

is what remains of all that hope,

I feel my heart shrink, and feel

I’ll never be reconciled to my fate.


And when death, wished for so long,

arrives, and when my misfortunes

are at an end, when the earth

is a foreign vale to me, and the future

vanishes from sight, I’ll still

remember you: and that vision

will still make me sigh, embitter me

at having lived in vain, and temper

the fatal day’s delight with pain.



And already in the first tumult of youth,

of happiness, and anguish, and desire,

I often called on death, and sat

for a long time beside the water,

thinking of ending hope and grief

below the surface.


Then when a secret

illness placed my life in danger,

I wept for my youth, and the flower

of my poor days, fading away

in time: and often, late at night,

sitting on my bed, sadly creating

poetry, in the dim lamplight,

mourned, with night and silence,

the fleeting soul, and, in my weakness,

even sang a funeral elegy to myself.



Who can remember you without sighs,

first threshold of youth, O lovely days,

impossible to describe, when young girls

first began to smile at a rapturous mortal:

everything is smiling as it gathers

around him: envy, not yet roused,

or still benign, is silent: and isn’t it

as if, (unaccustomed miracle!), the world

reaches out its hand to assist him, forgives

his errors, applauds his first appearance

in life, and bowing low shows it accepts

him as a man, and names him so?


Fleeting days! Vanishing like a gleam

of lightning. And what human being ever

remains ignorant of misfortune, once

that lovely season is done, when the best

of times, his youth, ah youth, has gone? 



O Nerina! Do I not hear these places

speak of you? Could you truly have

slipped from my mind? Where have you

gone, my sweetest one, that all I find

of you are memories? I no longer see you

in your native land: that window’s deserted

from which you used to talk with me,

from which the starlight is sadly reflected.


Where are you, whose voice

I no longer hear as I once did,

when every remote sound your lips gave

made my face grow pale as it reached me?

Time passes.


Your days are gone,

my sweet love. You have vanished.

To pass through this world is given to others,

and to make a home among these fragrant hills.


You vanished so swiftly: and your life was like

a dream. Here you danced: on your brow

joy shone out, and that confident illusion,

that light of youth, shone out, till fate

quenched them, and you lay there, dead.


Ah Nerina, the ancient love reigns

in my heart. Whenever I go to dinners,

or celebrations, I often say to myself:

‘Oh, Nerina, you never dress

for dinners, or celebrations now.’


If May returns, when lovers go with branches

full of flowers, and songs, to their girls,

I say: ‘My Nerina, spring never

returns for you, love never returns.


With every clear day, every flowered

field I see, and every joy I feel, I say:

‘Nerina no longer feels the joy: she sees

neither fields nor sky.’


Ah, you are gone,

my eternal sigh: you are gone, and bitter

memory is the companion to all my vague

imaginings, all my tender feelings,

the dear, sad tremors of my heart.



Giacomo Leopardi Memories

ita: Le ricordanze – from: Canti 

canto XXII (1829)

Italian classical literature

Text translated into English



G. Leopardi “Le ricordanze” Original Italian text > here




Giacomo Leopardi All the works > here


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