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.
Excerpted from Canti: Poems by Giacomo Leopardi, translated, and annotated by Jonathan Galassi. Published in November 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by Jonathan Galassi. All rights reserved.