Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863-1938) was a prominent Italian poet who thrived on decadence. During WWI he achieved fame for having seized the city of Fiume (present day Croatia) in an attempt to set up an independent state. More of a Fascist than Mussolini himself, D’Annunzio assumed the role of dictator there until an embarrassed Italian government forced him to abdicate. So, for the Wanna Be Dictator, it was back to writing poetry.
I’ve never been a D’Annunzio fan and only write about him now thanks to a tamarisk. My Man and I often take evening walks and sometimes sit on a bench facing the sea just to sit and face the sea. Dividing the beach from the road is a line of tamarisks. We were sitting there in silence when My Man, after staring at the nearby tamarisk for some time, started reciting from one of D’Annunzio’s well-known poems, “La pioggia nel Pineto” (“The Rain in the Pinewood”). D’Annunzio writes of “le tamerici salmastre ed arse” (“the briny and burnt tamarisks”) that are covered with rain. The poet describes how, after weeks of unbearable heat, the rain brings solace and awakens the senses. The poet is walking with his lover, Ermione (pseudonym of the actress Eleonora Duse) when it begins to rain. He tells her to be quiet so that they can hear the variety of sounds the rain makes as it falls on the world around them. Listen, he says, because the rain that falls on naked hands renews the soul.
Well it wasn’t raining and My Man and I weren’t in a pinewood. Nevertheless, I could feel that just sitting on that little bench next to a tamarisk with someone I loved letting nature caress us was a poem in itself.
Related: “La pioggia nel Pineto” by D’Annunzio with English translation HERE