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D'ANNUNZIO, Gabriele



Il piacere / The Child Of Pleasure

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And in the kisses, what deep sweetness! There are women's mouths that seem to ignite with love the breath that opens them. Whether they are reddened by blood richer than purple, or frozen by the pallor of agony, whether they are illuminated by the goodness of consent or darkened by the shadow of disdain, they always carry within them an enigma that disturbs men of intellect, and attracts them and captivates them. A constant discord between the expression of the lips and that of the eyes generates the mystery; it seems as if a duplicitous soul reveals itself there with a different beauty, happy and sad, cold and passionate, cruel and merciful, humble and proud, laughing and mocking; and the ambiguity arouses discomfort in the spirit that takes pleasure in dark things.

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Notturno / The Beauty of the Night

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It was one of those wonderful January nights, cold and serene, which turn Rome into a city of silver set in a ring of diamonds. The full moon, hanging in mid-sky, shed a triple purity of light, of frost, and of silence.

He walked along in the moonlight like a somnambulist, conscious of nothing but his pain. The last blow had been struck, the idol was shattered, nothing remained standing above the ruins—this was the end!

So it was true—she had never really loved him. She had not scrupled to break with him in order to contract a marriage of convenience. And now she put on the airs of a martyr before him, wrapped herself round with a mantle of conjugal inviolability! A bitter laugh rose to his lips, and then a rush of sullen blind rage against the woman came over him. The memory of his passion went for nothing—all the past was one long fraud, one stupendous, hideous lie; and this man, who throughout his whole life had made a practice of dissimulation and duplicity, was now incensed at the deception of another, was as indignant at it as at some unpardonable backsliding, some inexcusable and inexplicable perfidy. He was quite unable to understand how Elena could have committed such a crime; he denied her all possibility of justification, and rejected the hypothesis of some secret and dire necessity having driven her to sudden flight. He could see nothing but the bare brutal fact, its baseness, its vulgarity—above all its vulgarity, gross, manifest, odious, without one extenuating circumstance. In short, the whole matter reduced itself to this: a passion which was apparently sincere, which they had vowed was profound and inextinguishable, had been broken off for a question of money, for material interests, for a commercial transaction.

'Oh, you are ungrateful! What do you know of all that has happened, of all I have suffered!'

Elena's words recurred to him with everything else she had said, from beginning to end of their interview—her words of fondness, her offer of sisterly affection, all her sentimental phrases. And he remembered, too, the tears that had dimmed her eyes, her changes of countenance, her tremors, her choking voice when she said good-bye, and he laid the roses in her lap. 'But why had she ever consented to come? Why play this part, call up all these emotions, arrange this comedy? Why?

By this time he had reached the top of the steps, and found himself in the deserted piazza. Suddenly the beauty of the night filled him with a vague but desperate yearning towards some unknown good. The image of Maria Ferrès flashed across his mind; his heart beat fast, he thought of what it would be to hold her hands in his, to lean his head upon her breast, to feel that she was consoling him without words, by her pity alone. This longing for pity, for a refuge, was like the last struggle of a soul that will not be content to perish. He bent his head and entered the house without turning again to look at the night.

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Il Fuoco/The Flame

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They remained silent, while the bronze tolling passed over their heads so powerfully that they seemed to hear it in the very roots of their hair like a quiver of their flesh.

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He followed the glances of some of them like a ray of love directed at a woman seated somewhere, engrossed in her own thoughts, made languorous by secret delights and softened in some impure way, with a snow-white face in which her mouth opened like a hive damp with honey.

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That which at twilight had appeared to be a silvery sea-god's palace, a structure of twisted sea-shapes, was now a temple built by the cunning genies of Fire.

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The woman bent down to pick up the fallen pomegranate from the grass. It was ripe, it had burst open in the fall, stained her white dress. The vision of the laden barge, the pale island, the flowery meadow returned to her loving spirit along with the Creator's words: 'This is my body...Take and eat...

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The heat of his night time fever was being brushed away entirely by the breeze as the light mists evaporated. The same process that was happening around him, was happening within him too. He was being reborn with the morning.

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It was like a Stygian plain, like a vision of Hades: a land of shadows, vapours and water. Everything was going misty and disappearing like spirits. The moon was enchanting and pulling at the plain just as she enchants and pulls at the sea, drinking all that vast earthly dampness from the horizon with her silent, insatiable throat.

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But the daily tasks and prayers of men, the ancient city tired from having lived too long, the ravaged marble and worn out bells, all those things oppressed by the weight of memories, all those perishable things were rendered humble in comparison with the tremendous blazing Alps that tore at the sky with their thousand unyielding spikes, a vast, solitary city that was waiting, perhaps, for a new race of Titans.

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