[Milton-L] 1912-2012: A tribute to a great poet, Milton included

Dario Rivarossa dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Sat Nov 17 07:41:25 EST 2012

2012 is the 100th anniversary of the death of the Italian poet and
scholar Giovanni Pascoli (b. 1855). One of his most famous verses is
where he describes Earth as "quest'atomo opaco del Male," this opaque
atom of Evil. It is the last verse in his poem "X Agosto" (text:
http://www.fondazionepascoli.it/Poesie/My93.htm), August 10th, dealing
with his father being murdered on that day in 1867. Italian 'Justice'
never discovered who the killers were, and especially the person
behind them - nor did it really try to, for that. Welcome to the Bel

Well, in this very personal, tragic text, Pascoli 'hid' a refined
citation that is nearly always (or, always?) skipped by Italian
scholars and readers since it doesn't belong to our traditional
culture. Dante too, in Paradiso, had expressed his contempt toward our
planet 'seen from afar,' but the phrase "opaque atom" cannot be found
in Italian classics. It comes from John Milton, Paradise Lost,
beginning of Book VIII:

. . . this Earth a spot, a graine,
An atom, . . .
. . . this opacous Earth, this punctual spot
. . .

As to Evil, it refers to the whole subject of Paradise Lost.
A due tribute to a Great Poet who quotes a Great Poet.

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