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Leggi e ascolta “Il cinque maggio” di Alessandro Manzoni

Today is May 5, and one of the most beautiful works written by Alessandro Manzoni bears this title.

Let's find out why together.

A bit of history

On May 5, 1821, during his exile on the island of Sant'Elena, he died Napoleon Bonaparte. The fact shakes public opinion and even more shakes, offering a reason for reflection,Alessandro Manzoniwho composes this ode in one go, over three days.

The poem, despite the obstacle posed by the Austrian censorship, circulates widely and has a great success until it is finally published by a Turin publisher and translated into various languages.

Manzoni recalls, the figure ofNapoleon, starting from the moment of his death: this event causes great dismay because Napoleon has ruled the fate of an entire era and an entire continent.

All that remains is silence, the earth is astonished, it is too early to say whether Napoleon's was a glorious life or not but it is certain that his was an existence characterized by legendary feats that left the world amazed.

Read the poem

He was. As immovable,
Given the mortal sigh,
He stood there unmindful
Orba of long breath,
Thus struck, astonished
The earth stands at the nuncio,

Change thinking about the last one
Hour of the fatal man;
Nor does he know when a similar one
Deadly Footprint
Its bloody dust
To trample will come.

He dazzling in solo
He saw my genius and was silent;
When, with assiduous stead,
He fell, rose and lay down,
Of a thousand voices per sonito
Mista his has not:

Virgin of servant commendation
And of cowardly outrage,
Sorge or moved immediately
Disappear from such a radius:
And he dissolves a song for the urn
Maybe he won't die.

From the Alps to the Pyramids,
From Manzanares to the Reno,
Of that sure the lightning
Keep behind the flash;
It burst from Scilla to Tanais,
From one to the other Tue.

Was it true glory? For posterity
The arduous sentence: nui
Let us bow our foreheads to the Maximus
Fattor, who wanted in him
Of the creator his spirit
Larger footprint print.

The tempestuous and anxious
Joy of a great design,
The anxiety of an indocile heart
It serves, thinking of the kingdom;
And the arrives, and holds a prize
It was madness to hope;

He tried everything: glory
Greater after the peril,
Escape and victory,
The palace and the sad exile:
Twice in the dust,
Twice on the altar.

He named himself: two centuries,
against each other armed,
Submissive to him they turned,
As waiting for fate;
He made silence, and referee
He sat in their midst.

E sparve, edi in idleness
Closed in such a short bank,
Sign of immense envy
And of deep pity,
Of inextinguishable hatred
And of indomitable love.

As on the head of the shipwrecked
The wave rolls and weighs,
The wave on which the miserable,
High even before and tense,
Scroll the view to choose
Prode remote in vain;

Tal su quell'alma the cumulus
Some memories came down!
Oh how many times to posterity
Narrar himself feats,
And on the eternal pages
The tired man fell!

Oh how many times, unspoken
To die inert one day,
Bend down the lightning rays,
Arms folded,
He stayed, and of the days that were
The sovvenir attacked him!

And he rethought the furniture
Tents, and the beaten valleys,
And the flash of the maniples,
And the wave of horses,
And the agitated empire,
And the swift will obey.

Ouch! perhaps so much agony
The spirit fell,
And he despaired: but valid
A hand came from heaven,
And more spirabil aere
Merciful carried him;

And he started it, for the prosperous
path of hope,
To the eternal fields, to the prize
that desires advance,
Where is silence and darkness
The glory that passed.

Beautiful Immortal! beneficial
Faith in triumphs accustomed!
Write this again, rejoice;
What a more superb height
To the dishonor of Golgotha
He never stooped.

You from the tired ashes
Spent every ria word:
Il Dio che atterra e suscita,
Which torments and which consoles,
On the deserted farmer
Beside him she posed.


He was (died, passed away). In fact now he lies motionless, having exhaled his last breath, and his remains are left with no more memories, deprived of his soul: anyone who has heard the news of this death is amazed.

Everyone remains silent thinking about the last hours of this man sent by fate and no one knows when such a man will come back again to trample the earth that he himself has trampled, leaving a bloody path.

I, as a poet, saw Napoleon in triumph, on the imperial throne, but I kept silent without making poetry about this event, and I also saw the moment when he was quickly defeated, returned to power and fell again, but my poetry he continued to remain aloof and not mix with all the flattering voices around Napoleon; now my poetic ingenuity wants to speak – and it rises moved, without servile praise or vile insults – of the sudden death of a similar figure, and it offers to this man's tomb a composition that will perhaps remain eternal.

From Italy to Egypt, from Spain to Germany, this man's very rapid actions followed his way of thinking, he led businesses from Sicily to the Don, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.

Was his true glory? The difficult sentence is up to posterity: we bow humbly to the Supreme Creator who wanted to make Napoleon (himself) a symbol of his divine power. The dangerous and fearful glory of a great design, the intolerance of a soul that must obey but thinks of power and then reaches for it and obtains a prize that would have been madness to believe possible.

He experienced everything: he experienced glory, all the greater after danger, flight and victory, royal power and exile, he was twice defeated, and twice victorious. He himself gave himself the name: two opposing eras looked at him submissively, as if every destiny depended on him, he imposed silence and sat between them as an arbiter.

Despite his greatness, he quickly disappeared and ended his life in idleness, a prisoner on a small island, the target of immense envy and deep respect, of great hatred and great passion. Just as the wave on which the gaze of the unfortunate man just before had flown high and in search of distant shores that he could not have reached wraps heavily around the head of the shipwrecked person, so the weight of memories fell upon that soul.

Ah, quante volte ha iniziato a scrivere le sue memorie per i posteri ma su tutte quelle pagine si posava continuamente la sua stanca mano! Quante volte alla fine di un giorno improduttivo ha abbassato lo sguardo fulmineo, con le braccia conserte, preso dal ricordo dei giorni ormai andati. 

And he thought back to the ever-moving military camps, the trenches, the flashing of weapons and the assaults of the cavalry, and the orders given quickly and their execution.

 Ah, forse fra tanto dolore crollò il suo spirito e si disperò, ma arrivò l’aiuto di Dio a quel punto, che lo condusse in una realtà più serena; E lo guidò per i floridi sentieri delle speranze, verso i campi eterni, lo condusse alla beatitudine eterna, che sorpassa ogni desiderio umano, lo guidò dove la gloria terrena non vale nulla. Bella, immortale, benefica fede, abituata ai trionfi!

Considera anche questo tuo trionfo e sii allegra perché nessuna personalità più grande si è mai chinata davanti alla croce di Cristo. Tu (Fede) allontana dalle ceneri di quest’uomo ogni parola maligna: il Dio che atterra e rialza, che dà dolori e consola si è posto accanto a lui, per consolarlo nel momento solitario della sua morte.


Dopo una così grande poesia non mi resta altro che augurarvi la good night.

Let's listen together

mamma legge la fiaba
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May 5th

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