Dustin Hoffman speaks Italian in this video where he tries his hand at reciting a poem by famous Italian poet, Giacomo Leopardi.
The poem in question is described as Leopardi’s greatest work.
Called “L’infinito”, it is about eternity and from the native Marche poet, works well as a tribute to the region.
The video above is a commercial to promote tourism in Italy’s beautiful Marche region, but it has been met with criticism from Italy’s intellectual elite due to Hoffman’s difficulties with the language.
I actually think it works quite well, but perhaps not for an Italian public.
Imagine this in America and you’d have more than one Italo-American all of a sudden discovering their Italian roots and rushing back to the Marche.
The region is Italy’s unsung beauty, and this commercial won’t do it any favours in keeping it a secret for the rest of us.
I still give kudos to Hoffman for the effort, and think that of all American actors doing a publicity stunt, he is one of the few who would genuinely understand and appreciate the literary work at hand.
See the poem in Italian after the jump, along with an English translation of “L’infinito”.
L’Infinito, Giacomo LeopardiItalianSempre caro mi fu quest’ermo colle,e questa siepe, che da tanta partedell’ultimo orizzonte il guardo esclude.
Ma sedendo e mirando, interminatispazi di là da quella, e sovrumanisilenzi, e profondissima quieteio nel pensier mi fingo; ove per pocoil cor non si spaura.
E come il ventoodo stormir tra queste piante, io quelloinfinito silenzio a questa vocevo comparando: e mi sovvien l’eterno,e le morte stagioni, e la presentee viva, e il suon di lei.
Così tra questaimmensità s’annega il pensier mio:e il naufragar m’è dolce in questo mare.
EnglishThis solitary hill has always been dear to meAnd this hedge, which prevents me from seeing most ofThe endless horizon.
But when I sit and gaze, I imagine, in my thoughtsEndless spaces beyond the hedge,An all encompassing silence and a deeply profound quiet,To the point that my heart is almost overwhelmed.
And when I hear the wind rustling through the treesI compare its voice to the infinite silence.
And eternity occurs to me, and all the ages past,And the present time, and its sound.
Amidst this immensity my thought drowns:And to flounder in this sea is sweet to me.