Day 61, Era de Maggio…
Yesterday the flower moon was in full bloom, embodying all the sensuousness that May overflows with here in this valley and across the peninsula.
In 1885, as Naples was recovering from an epidemic of cholera, a song emerged, part of a collection of poetry, written by Salvatore di Giacomo and set to music by Mario Costa.
There quite possibly has not been a better love song written in the 135 years since (some romantics are incurable). Today it speaks to a longing I have, still somewhat sheltered/quarantined, still unsure—will I see you again? It speaks to my origins, a feeling that maybe my great-grandfather made a promise when he left here that I’ve come back to keep.
The song begins as the memory of one of the two lovers who meet in the month of May, when the air was cool and the smell of roses overflowed from the garden and into your bosom fell clusters of cherries… we sang together. I will never forget it, no, the memory grows even stronger the more time passes.
He, of course, must go.
She says, oh my heart-- you will leave me and go far away from here. I’ll count the hours, but who knows when you’ll return?
He promises to come back, right here to this spot by the fountain, when it is again May and the roses again bloom. If the roses come back, then I will come back.
And they meet again, of course, in May, of course, because the wound of love never heals. My heart, I have returned… do with me what you will.
This just might be my favorite version of this song, filmed in the midst of the magnificent decay of the city of Napoli, from the film Passione, a 2016 documentary on napoletano music with John Turturro (the subtitles are in Italian, since the song is sung in napoletano):
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I added this blog as a way to share some thoughts and experiences around the impact of Covid-19 on my life here in Southern Italy. These posts have been a near-daily practice during this time and are largely unedited, most having been first posted on Facebook. They are of course in order with the most recent entry on the first page. I invite you to explore previous posts or even start from the beginning.