Last Dream, by Giovanni Pascoli

Winner, 2020 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize


An essential new translation of one of Italian literature’s most celebrated poets. Giovanni Pascoli stands as a towering figure at the threshold of modern Italian poetry, yet he is little known in English. He wrote his best poems in the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first few years of the twentieth, in an extraordinary burst that included his three most important collections, Myricae, Canti di Castelvecchio, and Primi poemetti. In this volume, translator Geoffrey Brock offers a personal anthology that conveys the wide-eyed spirit and formal beauty of the originals.

See book at the World Poetry Books site

“This collection is a revelation. In Geoffrey Brock’s impeccable versions, Pascoli becomes a poet who demands to be read out loud. Time and again I found myself stopping to savor a phrase, a line break, a rhyme, a stanza. And then reading the poem over from the start. ‘The Sleep of Odysseus’ is heart-stopping. It’s difficult to overstate my admiration for that tact, grace, and formal imagination that shape these remarkable translations.” —Clare Cavanagh

“Brock’s selection and translations have made me feel the power and beauty of his work.” —Edmund Prestwich, PN Review (UK)

“Geoffrey Brock’s stunning collection at last brings the joys of reading Pascoli’s best verses to a new audience, brilliantly capturing the ‘shadow and the mystery’ of Pascoli’s work. The intimate links that Pascoli forges between sound and meaning, his innovative syntactical constructions, and highly specific lexicon have often been cited as obstacles to rending his works in translation. Brock has met the challenge, bringing to life in English Pascoli’s evocative, hazy, tremulous poetic world with its melancholic tones and childlike sense of wonder. These moving translations, deeply attuned to Pascoli’s rhythms, reveal to English readers the suggestive power and fragility of the world he depicts: the ‘quiet scrape of leaf on withered leaf,’ the echoing of ‘tired bells,’ the ‘grimly rumbling thunderclaps,’ the ‘bickering’ of ‘nearby sparrows,’ and the wafting perfume of jasmine.” —Maria Truglio, author of Beyond the Family Romance: The Legend of Pascoli

“Brock takes on the daunting task of replicating the hypnotic musicality of the original, evincing an uncannily keen ear for bringing into relief the complex web of correspondences (in the Baudelairean sense) that like a secret undertow inspirit the poetry of this quiet revolutionary dressed in the clothing of a rural bard. The crown jewel of this book must be ‘The Sleep of Odysseus,’ a poem of epic melancholy whose transcendental beauty we find breathtakingly rendered in Brock’s luminous English. All in all, a masterful achievement.” —Giorgio Mobili, Judges’ Citation, Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize

“That those pears are ‘sugared,’ that the ‘black’ bread might be savored simply for its color, that bloom slants so readily into balm, are all minor miracles, proof of what good translation can do when one writer is fully equipped in the language and sensibility of another: ‘bloom / balm’ is as much Brock’s rhyme as ‘meli / mieli’ is Pascoli’s.” —Spencer Hupp, The Sewanee Review

“In ‘Lightning and Thunder,’ the language is wonderfully onomatopoetic and replicates the sound of the storm: booming, rebounding, grimly rumbling/ away, then washing back in tatters. The next image, a Pascolian juxtaposition of tragedy and motherly figures who are comforting and yet deadly, is superbly rendered with an incursion into modern syntax, which shatters the verse: Tenderly now: a mother’s/ soft song, the creak of a cradle’s arc. The smooth alliteration of labial and liquid consonants in the original text (s’udì di madre e il moto di una culla) is here transformed into the whisper of ‘soft song’ and the screeching of the cradle’s wood—translator’s liberties which show that Brock has mastered the formula behind the magic of Pascoli’s poetry.” —Elena Borelli, Reading in Translation

“Brock conveys to us the best of Pascoli. His Pascoli is the author of subtle, bewitching poems that look both inward and outward, celebrating the natural world and the inner life of humble objects: kites, walking sticks, the little nests of spring. Brock has kept the rhymes and meters, and his deeply intelligent remakings breathe new life into the old idiom.” —Will Schutt