by Giacomo Leopardi translated by Jonathan Galassi
Listen, Melisso: I want to tell you a dream
I had last night, which comes to mind,
seeing the moon again. I was standing
at the window that looks out on the meadow
staring up, when suddenly the moon
unhooked herself. And it seemed to me
that as she fell,
the nearer she got the bigger she looked, until
she hit the ground in the middle of the meadow,
big as a bucket, and vomited
a cloud of sparks that shrieked as loud
as when you dunk a live coal in the water
and drown it. So, as I said,
the moon died in the middle of the meadow,
little by little slowly darkening,
and the grass was smoking all around.
Then, looking up into the sky, I saw
something still there, a glimmer or a shadow,
or the niche that she'd been torn away from,
which made me cold with fear. And I'm still anxious.
You were right to be afraid, when the moon
fell so easily into your field.
Who knows? Don't we often see
stars fall in summer?
There are so many stars
that if one or another of them falls
it's no great loss, since there are thousands left.
But there's just this one moon up in the sky,
which no one saw fall ever—except in dreams.