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#2550 - Friday, August 11, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz


Photo: book cover  

Exclusive to the Highlights:  

For this issue I typed an excerpt from Six Memos for the Next Millenium, by Italo Calvino. Here is its page on  

In my next issue of The Highlights I'm going to include more selections from this book.  



Selection from


Six Memos for the Next Millenium

by Italo Calvino


As soon as the moon appears on poetry, it brings with it a sensation of lightness, suspension, a silent calm enchantment. When I began thinking about these lectures, I wanted to devote one whole talk to the moon, to trace its apparitions in the literatures of many times and places. Then I decided that the moon should be left entirely to Leopardi. For the miraculous thing about his poetry is that he simply takes the weight out of language, to the point that it resembles moonlight. The appearances of the moon in his poetry do not take up many lines, but they are enough to shed the light of the moon on the whole poem, or else to project upon it the shadow of its absence.


Dolce e chiara  la notte e senza vento

e querta sovra i tetti e in mezzo agli orti

posa la luna, e di lontan rivela

serena ogni montagna


. . . . .


O graziosa luna, io mi rammento

che, or volge l'anno, sovra questo colle

io venia pien d'angoscia a rimirarti:

e tu pendevi allor su quella selva

siccome fai, che tutta la rischiari.


. . . . .


O cara luna, al cui tranquillo raggio

danzan le lepri nelle selve...


. . . . .


Gi tutta l'aria imbruna,

torna azzurro il sereno, e tornan l'ombre

gi da' colli e da' tetti,

al biancheggiar della recente luna.


. . . . .


Che fai tu, luna, in ciel? Dimmi, che fai,

silenziosa luna?

Sorgi la sera e vai,

contemplando i deserti, indi ti posi.


~ ~ ~


Soft and clear is the night and without wind, and quietly

over the roofs and in the gardens rests the moon, and far

away reveals every peaceful mountain.


. . . . .


O gentle, gracious moon, I remember now, it must be a

year ago, on this same hill I came to see you; I was full of

sorrow. And you were leaning then above that wood just as

now, filling it all with brilliance.


. . . . .


O cherished moon, beneath whose quiet beams the hares dance in the woods...


. . . . .


Already all the air darkens, deepens to blue and shadows glide

from roofs and hills at the whitening of the recent moon.


. . . . .


What do you do there, moon, in the sky? Tell me what you

do, silent moon. When evening comes you rise and go con-

templating wastelands; then you set.


~ ~ ~

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