In the Fog

By Giovanni Pascoli 1855–1912 Giovanni Pascoli

Translated By Geoffrey Brock Read the translator's notes

I stared into the valley: it was gone—   
wholly submerged! A vast flat sea remained,   
gray, with no waves, no beaches; all was one.   

And here and there I noticed, when I strained,   
the alien clamoring of small, wild voices:   
birds that had lost their way in that vain land.   

And high above, the skeletons of beeches,   
as if suspended, and the reveries   
of ruins and of the hermit’s hidden reaches.   

And a dog yelped and yelped, as if in fear,   
I knew not where nor why. Perhaps he heard   
strange footsteps, neither far away nor near—   

echoing footsteps, neither slow nor quick,   
alternating, eternal. Down I stared,   
but I saw nothing, no one, looking back.   

The reveries of ruins asked: “Will no   
one come?” The skeletons of trees inquired:   
“And who are you, forever on the go?”   

I may have seen a shadow then, an errant   
shadow, bearing a bundle on its head.   
I saw—and no more saw, in the same instant.   

All I could hear were the uneasy screeches   
of the lost birds, the yelping of the stray,   
and, on that sea that lacked both waves and beaches,   

the footsteps, neither near nor far away.

Source: Poetry (April 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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April 2006
 Giovanni  Pascoli


Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912) was arguably the greatest Italian poet writing at the beginning of the twentieth century. While certainly no Modernist, his almost imagistic focus on piccole cose (small things) and his scaling back of the era’s grandiose language and rhetoric both contributed to the modernization of Italian poetry.

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Giovanni Pascoli

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals


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