E il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare

T

otally incomprehensible title, and maybe photograph, for those who don’t know Italian poetry.

Taken during one of the monthly scientific excursions on the mediterranean islet of Vivara, this picture has nothing to do with the scientific work.

One early morning, I sat on a rock waiting for the first sunlight to ignite the sky, while the rest of the world was still asleep. At the very moment the first rays touched the shrub in front of me, the whole world was defined and at the same time delimited by that hedge.

At that moment of serene peace, muted only by the timid first notes of a singing Blackbird and by the faint breaking of the waves on the distant shore down below, Giacomo Leopardi’s poem L’Infinito (The Infinite) unfolded in my thoughts, while I took the photo:

Sempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,
e questa siepe, che da tanta parte
dell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.
Ma sedendo e mirando, interminati
spazi di là da quella, e sovrumani
silenzi, e profondissima quiete
io nel pensier mi fingo; ove per poco
il cor non si spaura. E come il vento
odo stormir tra queste piante, io quello
infinito silenzio a questa voce
vo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,
e le morte stagioni, e la presente
e viva, e il suon di lei. Così tra questa
immensità s’annega il pensier mio:
e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.

I have no further recollections of that day, just that a profound sense of serenity pervaded me for the rest of the morning and I still can experience that serenity every time a look at this picture.

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