A few days ago I had one of those afternoons in which, instead of scrolling through the usual social networks, fortunately, I started looking for things I didn't even know the name of. So I started with Baudelaire's 'Flowers of Evil', just because it's one of the poetry collections I've always procrastinated reading. I soon realised that the tone was not what I was looking for and so I began to read the first of the 'crepuscolari poets' that came my way: Guido Gozzano. Totally accidental was the first poem, but this one struck me so much that it has brought me back to writing about it here today.
"Parabola" is the title of the poem in question, taken from Gozzano's first poetic collection "La via del rifugio". This page turns the spotlight on a very short episode in which the protagonist is a child who performs very few actions. But I do not want to reveal so coldly the precious allegory of these stanzas, so I write about it below. Let me add: it is an allegory easily criticised by hypocrites -I would prefer it for their false virtues-, but it makes me understand the reason why I am able to fulfil a desire of mine that is physically unattainable in these months: to go and visit my dear sea.
"The child looks between his ten fingers
at the beautiful apple he holds there;
and lingers - so shiny and perfect -
to give with his teeth that great wound."
This first stanza immediately makes me focus on the protagonist's reaction to a specimen of beauty: lingering, from the Latin for 'respite'. So this is an action which, in my opinion, is a reaction. A reaction because it is the protagonist's response to a natural perfection; in fact, just the pause before ruining - or rather injuring - that beauty could be worthy of praise.
I take this pause as a symptom of delicacy but above all of great sensitivity towards what nature has given us, and continues to give us, as a precious gift.
But clearly this is not where the poem ends, and the dry truth will soon be revealed.But clearly this is not where the poem ends, and the dry truth will soon be revealed.
"But given the first bite, here he hastens:
And that which he bites seems a dull thing
For the eye intent on the bite that awaits it...
And already the apple is half-finished."
The gaze, previously the servant of sensitivity, is now the master of action, always ahead and breathless, leading the child to chase it and the latter, seeing no alternative, hurries on. Once the wound has been opened, without respite, the apple has already been half consumed, while there is no shadow of the magic of the first enchantment.
For the protagonist eye, the apple no longer has any value (it is no longer perfect) and so, with all its arrogance, it does not allow the mouth to taste and therefore enjoy.
"The child bites again - and with every bite
it is always the look that precedes the tooth -
until it stops at the torso that it already touches."
With this stanza Gozzano emphasises how much the child has given freedom to the voracity in him, allowing himself to be robbed of the pleasure, the partial life purpose of the fruit (I remember in fact that the apple in the original sin takes on the guise of 'forbidden fruit', this makes me think that the poet has chosen this fruit in a very targeted way).
It is in this way that attention to beauty dries up like a drop of salt water, swept away by the wind and dazzled by the sunlight that burns it. The grain of salt remains on the skin: alone.
Wasn't the apple as good as beautiful? We could only say that if he had tasted it, but no, he devoured it.
""I almost didn't feel the taste and I reach my torso!"
Thinks the child... The intent pupils
took all pleasure from the mouth."
It is only at the end that we see the child grasp what has happened, yet this awareness is repeated and will be repeated even in those who are no longer of short age, this is because it is a parable and as such will never cease to reveal its allegory.
That's how we human beings are, we manage to capture beauty but there are so many times that out of pure and trivial selfishness we destroy it, without even having learned enough, without even asking for advice. In fact, it is by instinct that we pick the fruits of plants and trees, killing them, just as when, in order to capture a special moment, we rush to record it with our mobile phones when it would be enough to just enjoy it there and imprint it as our mind knows how to do so extraordinarily well. All mothers can teach you this: you have to love, love and love so much to live it (as long as you can) and let it go when you have to. Because in the end there is always her, our mind so great that it allows us to recover what is lost or far away. How? By deceiving us, of course, but by giving us the possibility to bring back the love and the memory alive in us. An example of this is that flower you did not pick or that shell you left on the beach, if you close your eyes today you can smell it, you can see its colours and its shape.
And now that I have been living for months in a place that is totally different from my Sicily, different from the colours to the flavours, I feel very lucky to have lived, observed, listened to and above all loved the sea so much that I discover it is part of me, like all those things and people that are so precious that they always carry the memory and the soul.
I feel the wet sand between my feet, the smell of the Mediterranean and one of its waves singing to death on my ears.
Let us not forget that we often do not feel pleasure because we are focused elsewhere, but let us remember what we are really hungry for and let us not be distracted, life is too short to deprive ourselves of its proper taste.