Posted by: scintillatingspeck | July 16, 2008

Diciamo parole prospere!

Sometimes there is no recourse but a good Italian idiom.  I was raised speaking English and Italian, and Italian, for me, is a language that goes right to my core, that sidesteps most of my frontal lobe and goes straight to my emotional self.

In reflecting on the tone of my previous post, and the tone of recent times, things have felt exceptionally difficult.  This is when the phrase “diciamo parole prospere!” popped into my head.  The phrase, translated literally, means “let us say prosperous words.”  It is an exhortation in the face of difficulty and despair.  It is an acknowledgment that one must change focus.

When I think of this phrase, I imagine it being uttered by my late grandfather Luigi “Gigi” Foschi, an inimitable figure of giant proportions in my memory.  Gigi would say it with great verve and conviction.  He was a man of great energy and passion, a self-taught scholar and independent essayist and historian, and a great lover of the art, architecture, and history of Bologna, my ancestral home.  Gigi could be counted on for prosperous words.

I just did a search for the phrase online, and lo and behold, it is from a poem called “A Febo Apolline” by the great Bolognese poet Giosue Carducci.  The full stanza reads:

Ma le dolenti imagini
Si portin gli euri in mare:
Diciam parole prospere:
Benigno Amor ne appare.


My grandparents lived in Bologna right near Carducci’s house, in Piazza Carducci.  There was a statue of him there, in the pose of The Thinker, sitting and pondering.  Carducci was always a good one to go straight to the emotional core of things.  I am happy that my mind decided to channel his poetry.  He has darker words as well, much darker, which make me appreciate his “diciam parole prospere” all the more.

These are times that require poetry.



  1. I’m so sad I never got to meet Gigi and Nonna Foschi! 😦

  2. Carissima,

    Parole magiche! Magic words, those of your caro nonno Foschi. There are many sayings in Italian, as there are in all languages but the Italian ones always seem so perfectly suited to the occasion. It’s also telling that so many Italian sayings are related to the idea of never wasting anything, of not over using resources, of paying close attention to the seasons and of being humble before nature. Unfortunately this wonderful agrarian culture belongs to the period of pre-second World War and has pretty much been forgotten by anyone under the age of 65. Today Italy resembles any other industrialized western society, just more beautiful perhaps. But that’s my personal bias coming through. By the way, though Bologna may claim Carducci as their own, in reality he’s from Tuscany. The town where he’s from, Castagneto Carducci, is on the coast in the province of Livorno. It’s a 30 minute bike ride from where I live, Campiglia Marittima. He did in fact spend much of his adult life in Bologna but many of his most well known poems were about the wild land where he grew up, the Maremma, or coastal Tuscany. Tuscans are famous in Italy for being “campanalisti” which means more or less that they’re fiercely loyal to their local town square’s bell and instinctively mistrustful of the next village, even if it’s only across the valley. I’m sure your grandfather would love your writing. As well as your beautiful son, complimenti!


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