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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Mother

By Giosuè Carducci (1835–1907)

(A Group by Adrian Cecioni)

SURELY admired her the rosy day-dawn, when,

summoning the farmers to the still gray fields,

it saw her barefooted, with quick step passing

among the dewy odors of the hay.

Heard her at mid-day the elm-trees white with dust,

as, with broad shoulders bent o’er the yellow winrows,

she challenges in cheery song the grasshoppers,

whose hoarse chirping rings from the hot hillsides.

And when from her toil she lifted her turgid bosom,

her sun-browned face with glossy curls surrounded,

how then thy vesper fires, O Tuscany,

did richly tinge with color her bold figure!

’Tis then the strong mother plays at ball with her infant,

the lusty child whom her naked breasts have just sated;

tosses him on high and prattles sweetly with him,

while he, with eye fixed on the shining eyes of his mother,

His little body trembling all over with fear, holds out

his tiny fingers imploring; then loud laughs the mother,

and into the one great embrace of love

lets him fall, clasped close to her bosom.

Around her smiles the scene of homely labor;

tremulous nod the oats on the green hillsides;

one hears the distant mooing of the ox,

and on the barn-roof the gay plumed cock is crowing.


Nature has her brave ones, who for her despise

the masks of glory dear to the vulgar throng.

’Tis thus, O Adrian, with holy visions

thou comfortest the souls of fellow-men.

’Tis thus, O artist, with thy blows severe

thou putt’st in stone the ages’ ancient hope,

the lofty hope that cries, “Oh, when shall labor

be happy, and faithful love secure from harm?

“When shall a mighty nation of freemen

say in the face of the sun, ‘Shine no more

on the idle ease and the selfish wars of tyrants,

but on the pious justice of labor?’”