Thursday, April 18, 2013
Cease your flight Aurora opulent
with fruit, with flower,
sprung from nearby banks,
In the enchantment you drew with you
the migrant seasons,
each hour flaunts its boast,
and there are festoons of apricots,
peaches, cherries, twining tendrils,
the orchards’ fragrant pride.
Before he ever put pen to paper to write his now classic novel, The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa idled in the literary shadow of his cousin, Lucio Piccolo. The poetry of Piccolo is unknown in our own era. It is now The Leopard that casts a long shadow over Sicily and its poets and storytellers. During our travels in Sicily, we met many Sicilians who quoted familiar passages from The Leopard. Lampedusa’s words and images fill the big screen in Luchino Visconti’s sweeping film of the novel. Packed away like precious crystal in the Prince of Salina’s shuttered country villa, Lucio Piccolo’s poetry is exquisitely delicate and ethereal. His body of work is small. Many editions of his poems in Italian are now out of print. A beautiful collection of these poems translated into English (with the Italian alongside) was published by Princeton University Press in 1972. Each of Piccolo’s “baroque songs” is a polished gem. Piccolo’s words evoke both the rich history and timeless quality of Sicily. In the long line of Sicilian storytellers and poets who have brought acclaim to their island home, including Luigi Pirandello and Salvatore Quasimodo, Lucio Piccolo deserves to be remembered.