Sara Teasdale and Lake Como

In 1915 Sara Teasdale published her third collection of poetry “Rivers to the Sea” containing the section “Vignettes Overseas” about places visited in Europe, above all in Italy.
One of them is “Villa Serbelloni, Bellaggio”.
Bellagio (spelled with a single g) is a lovely town on a peninsula overlooking Lake Como in Northern Italy, located halfway between its two southernmost branches. It is renowned worldwide for its wonderful landscape, the lushness of the trees and flowers, the picturesque stairways, the variety of walks and paths, all this has earned it the title of Pearl of Lake Como.
Among the splendid villas overlooking the water is Villa Serbelloni which has a very ancient history. It was built in the 15th century and is currently owned by the Rockefeller Foundation, which inherited it in 1959 from Princess Ella Walker.
Today the villa, surrounded by 50 acres of park and gardens, is used as a place of residence and meeting place for scholars.
It is in these gardens that Teasdale sat to enjoy the tranquillity of the place.

Villa Serbelloni, Bellaggio

The fountain shivers lightly in the rain,
The laurels drip, the fading roses fall,
The marble satyr plays a mournful strain
That leaves the rainy fragrance musical.

Oh dripping laurel, Phoebus sacred tree,
Would that swift Daphne’s lot might come to me,
Then would I still my soul and for an hour
Change to a laurel in the glancing shower.

This poem describes a moment she spent in the park during a light rain.. She admires the marble statues and the trees: a shiny dripping laurel evokes the story of the laurel tree, that is the myth of Apollo and Daphne (which I will talk about tomorrow)
Like Daphne, she would like to escape her anguish: she pleads for respite and expresses her wish to turn into a tree as the nymph did.

22 March: World Water Day

Nel 1915 Sara Teasdale pubblicò la sua terza raccolta di poesie “Rivers to the Sea”, contenente la sezione “Vignettes Overseas” con poesie sui luoghi visitati in Europa, soprattutto in Italia.
Uno di questi è “Villa Serbelloni, Bellaggio”.
Bellagio (scritto con una sola g) è una graziosa cittadina su una penisola che si affaccia sul Lago di Como nel nord Italia, situata a metà strada tra i suoi due rami più meridionali. E’ rinomata in tutto il mondo per il suo meraviglioso paesaggio, la rigogliosa vegetazione di alberi e fiori, le suggestive scalinate, la varietà di passeggiate e sentieri: tutto questo le ha fatto meritare il titolo di Perla del Lago di Como.
Tra le splendide ville affacciate sull’acqua c’è Villa Serbelloni che ha una storia antichissima. Fu costruito nel XV secolo ed è attualmente di proprietà della Fondazione Rockefeller che lo ricevette in eredità nel 1959 dalla principessa Ella Walker.
Oggi la villa, circondata da 50 ettari di parco e giardini, è adibita a luogo di soggiorno e ritrovo di studiosi.
È in questi giardini che Teasdale si sedeva a godere della tranquillità del luogo.

Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio

La fontana tremola leggermente sotto la pioggia,
gli allori gocciolano, le rose sfiorite cadono,
il satiro di marmo suona una mesta melodia
che rende musicale la fragranza della pioggia.

Oh alloro gocciolante, albero sacro a Febo,
se il destino della veloce Dafne potesse venire da me,
allora vorrei placare la mia anima e per un’ora
trasformarmi in alloro sotto l’acqua che rimbalza.

(Trad: L.Z.)

Questa poesia descrive un momento che la poetessa ha trascorso nel parco durante una pioggia leggera. Ammira le statue di marmo e gli alberi : un lauro gocciolante e lucente le ricorda la storia dell’albero di alloro, cioè il mito di Apollo e Dafne (di cui parlerò domani)
Come Daphne, anche lei vorrebbe sfuggire alle sue angosce: implora quindi un attimo di tregua ed esprime il desiderio di trasformarsi in un albero come fece la ninfa.


61 thoughts on “Sara Teasdale and Lake Como

  1. Lovely and lyrical. I also just found out from you that today is World Water Day. Having lived in Southern California where limited water is wasted on golf courses, indifferent builders, and insufficient ways to save the limited rain water from mostly washing into the sewers and out to sea, I know that water is more precious than many who live in places where the rivers do not run dry, the landscape remains green, and fresh safe drinking water almost always flows from the tap.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In northern Italy it hasn’t rained for three months and the levels of rivers and lakes have dropped very much.
      Among the consequences of the water scarcity of Lake Como, which is at an “historic low”, public navigation is at risk

      Liked by 1 person

  2. RIVERS TO THE SEA appears to be a nice collection of poetries by SARA TEASDALE. As per your blog , natural beauty of the Lake Como and a tiny Town called BELLAGIO located on the bank of this Lake, is eye-catching . Whatever poetry may be on this tiny town by SARA TEASDALE , your description about it is not less attractive and important . I personally find almost all of your blog interesting . Though original written in Italian and my little knowledge of this beautiful language never comes on my way to understand the inherent theme of your blog as English translation of it is available there. A nice understanding of the things you have in your mind that’s why I enjoy your blog very much . Thanks a lot !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your appreciation makes me very happy. and I thanks you very much for your encouragement and support.
      Lake Como, like all other Italian lakes, is enchanting, even if lately it has been suffering from a water shortage, due to the lack of rain


  3. I can see where she got her inspiration from Luisa. A beautiful place, some lovely words, and another wonderful post from you which helps to lighten the dark clouds that the world is under at the moment 💙

    Liked by 1 person

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