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.