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Letters to his first love (1881-1883)

Letters to his first love (1881-1883)

Il gigantesco fondo di cinquecento lettere – dono di Martino Zanetti, generoso amico del Vittoriale – racconta il primo e l’ultimo grande amore di Gabriele d’Annunzio. Il primo è testimoniato da 232 lunghissime lettere, scritte da d’Annunzio fra il 1881 e il 1882 a Giselda Zucconi (ribattezzata presto Elda o Lalla), figlia di Tito, docente di lingue al collegio, poeta e traduttore di poesia con il vanto di trascorsi garibaldini. Invitando più volte lo stimato allievo nella propria villa fiorentina, lo Zucconi è il primo responsabile della prevedibile storia d’amore. La ragazza, che ha un anno meno di d’Annunzio, unisce a un’intelligenza viva e sensibile le doti non meno seducenti di due “occhioni erranti, misteriosi e fondi come il mare”, facili a infiammarsi. Elda è la musa vivente di cui Gabriele ha bisogno per la sua poesia, prima ancora che per la sua vita. In un anno e mezzo le scrive centinaia di missive, per lo più da Roma, dove si sta trasformando da collegiale di provincia a incantatore del mondo. E’ un epistolario sterminato e roboante, di confessioni d’amore, esaltazioni sensuali, promesse di fedeltà eterna, infervorate rassicurazioni sulla profondità di un amore unico e irripetibile: tutti ingredienti amalgamati in lettere, poetiche e sincere, esagerate e romantiche, retoriche e passionali al tempo stesso. In questo primo amore, come in quelli successivi, complessi e autentici o fatti solo di senso e di carne, il poeta infonde tutto se stesso. Sono i primi, eloquenti passi della spettacolarizzazione della sua vita, non ancora clamorosa ma già trasfigurata e fatta sublime da questo continuo traboccare di sé, dall’euforia e dal trasporto in cui si traducono atti e parole, realtà e fantasie immaginifiche. Il risultato è che Giselda, creatura pur non sprovveduta, rimane travolta dallo spasimo con cui Gabriele l’ha eletta “adoratissima ispiratrice”.
Nella lettera del 20 marzo 1882 d’Annunzio a proposito di sé scrive: “E’ fatale che io debba vivere così, sempre in agitazione, in un’irrequietezza indescrivibile, assetato di desiderio, di mille desideri l’uno più strano ed alto dell’altro, dilaniato dall’amore, torturato dall’arte, pazzo sognatore che reco il cuore palpitante tra la folla impassibile, e cerco come per fatalità, in nuove cose tormenti nuovi, e vivo nel disordine, e lavoro con la stessa foga con cui tiro di spada, o poltrisco in torpori lunghi e spossanti, e languo nelle penombre lente dei salotti, e bevo avido l’aria vasta e la fulgida luce, prodigo, scialacquatore, temerario, generoso, affettuoso, innamorato di te, triste, gaio, da un’ora all’altra, indomabile e indomato.” È spiegato, in poche parole, tutto ciò che Gabriele d’Annunzio vorrà essere e sarà.
L’amore si consuma in un anno e mezzo. Al ritorno di d’Annunzio dal soggiorno in terra d’Abruzzo l’amore per Elda non era più. Altri eventi altre donne si apprestavano al giovane poeta sempre più a suo agio nella Roma Umbertina. Ritroviamo Lalla, quarant’anni, dopo sposata a un professore di disegno e con un figlio. Per superare alcune gravi difficoltà economiche si rivolge all’antico amante, già al Vittoriale, implorando l’autorizzazione a pubblicare il loro carteggio d’amore. Nell’ultima lettera, datata 1926, lei scrive: “Perché dobbiamo tener nascosto a tutti e chiuso in un cassetto come cosa negletta, questa tua meravigliosa prosa che, conosciuta, accrescerebbe, se pure possibile, gloria alla tua gloria e darebbe a me un senso d’ineffabile orgoglio? La mia esistenza fatta tutta di dolore e di rassegnazione avrebbe forse un’ultima scintilla luminosa. Da te mi venne la prima grande gioia della mia vita: fa sì che sul tramonto di questa grama esistenza io possa avere ancora una gioia ed essa mi sia data dal tuo consentimento”. D’Annunzio non le dette il permesso, probabilmente non ritenendo che la sua prosa giovanile avrebbe aggiunto lustro alla sua fama.
Prof. Giordano Bruno Guerri, Presidente de Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

N.5

Rome, 6th Dec. 81
My good, my poor, Elda, my poor angel
I have just come back up home, among the other letters I looked for yours, I opened it with the emotion I always feel when I recognize the writing to be yours or that of papa, and I read it, and I felt really bad, I felt a pain in my heart.
You are so sad, and you say things that I understand too well and they tear me apart.
Why have you been underlining and punctuating certain words for the past few days?
Why? Do you doubt perhaps?
About what?
Oh, I beg you, I beg you with all my soul.
Elda, I beg you with all my soul not to torment me so ferociously. But do you not know that you make me desperate?
If I now, after you have suffered so much for me, after you have shed so many tears, after you have poured so much blood from your heart, if I now should come and say to you more or less covertly:= You are beginning not to love me anymore! = tell me, what would you do, Elda?
– I adore you adore you adore you forever, superhumanly, inexpressibly, and I suffer and fight and cry for you and want you to believe it, I do not want you to offend me any longer not even with the slightest hint of doubt.
– I will do anything you want me to, I will write to you every day, every hour as long as you give me a smile, as long as you say a cheerful, serene word to me …
Farewell, farewell
I am yours, yours, only yours, forever, and ever, Elda farewell
Gabriele

N.11

Rome, Via Borgognona, 44 rosso, 4° piano

My my divine, my divine Elda!

I am writing to you, I am writing to you after a long while, I am writing to you with tears in my eyes, with a thousand suspicions in my heart, with indescribable anguish, with an ardent desire for your words of love, for your kisses, for your caresses.

– What are you doing, how are you? How are you, oh my poor Elda, oh my poor angel?

I have been here in Rome for about ten days, days of hell, without having been able to write a line, without having been able to tell you that I still adore you, I still adore you desperately, I always think of you, I still have you in my soul.

This doubt torments me atrociously now: who knows what sad, what dark fantasies have crossed your mind! Who knows what you have thought of me, of my love, who knows!

Perhaps, perhaps you are devastated now, you are ill.-

Oh, Elda, if you still love me, tell me tell me everything, tell me everything, do not hide anything!

[…]
N.19

14th January 82

My divine Elda!

Today is one of those days when I feel shipwrecked in an ocean of monotony and melancholy, in which I feel my solitude and distance from you even more, divine Elda!

I have always been here at home after having woken up very late; and here I have been unable to do anything except write a letter to Papa … I have started ten things, and have stopped immediately disgusted: I have sat there in the armchair in endless hours of sad inertia, thinking of you, quenching myself in desire without end…

Clearly, you see, it seems like I am missing something which is essential for my survival it feels like I am fading away slowly bit by bit […]

I have read your lyrics many many times today, your lyrics overflowing with love. I thank you, I thank you a thousand times, my angel, my light, my most divine Elda!

– But why, but why – I ask myself crying- but why must we be far apart? Oh, and being so far apart, why must we love each other so desperately?

Oh Elda, Elda, my Elda!

Gabriele
N.36

My goddess, my fairy!

What a strange creature are you? How do you manage, Elda, how do you manage to shake all the most intimate fibres of my heart so deeply?

You have an indefinable charm, a charm that draws me, that exalts me, that completely wraps around me and makes me cry out with passion, thrills of love, yearning for superhuman joy…

– What can I say about your letter of this morning?

Believe me, I am still under that overpowering impression and I cannot tell you anything, and I can feel that I am trembling all over

– I read it twenty times with ever-growing emotion ; I seemed insane; I went around all morning as if I were in a trance ,came back now, and reread your letter…

But did you put a fatal spell in it? I do not know. I will write to you tomorrow, I cannot now; now I can only repeat in a choked voice …

Divine, divine, divine, I adore you, I’m yours yours yours desperately eternally yours, divine divine divine!

Farewell, farewell. Forgive me, but I feel like I am fainting.

Gabriele
N.81

Rome, 27th March 82

My beautiful beautiful beautiful little girl, here is a kiss, so long and quivering and with a sound that will make mother lift her eyes smiling with her divine smile as if to say that we must change our ways…

Do not take any notice of your mother? Give me another hundred kisses and every one longer, warmer and louder than the one before.

– How happy I am about your bright little letter, my Elda! It seems like I can see you with your pale face lit up by those two big tawny eyes, illuminated by the indescribable laughter of your mouth, laughter that penetrates deep into my soul with its silvery tremor and its splendour like that of a blooming carnation.

[…]

N.82

Rome, 28th March 82.

You see, terrible little tigress, you see, when I read your crackling glittering dazzling lyrics and I intoxicated myself with your childlike joy and with your most divine love, you see, such a furious frenzy came over me, and such long, wild thrills ran through my veins and such a burning desire devoured my soul that if you had been there, to your misfortune, you would not have come out alive, I swear …

– What crazy things I thought! I would have wanted to be there with you, alone, in this splendid golden light of March, in an infinite green field sparkling with flowers; to follow you gasping, and reach you and set your body on fire with my kisses burning like the sun, and cover you with heaps of flowers, bury you in a fresh scented tomb, oh temptress, oh goddess, oh my supreme joy and my supreme torment!

[…]

N.129

My Elda, Elda!

I have been here thinking about you until now, divinely adoring you in my soul, trying to enjoy even an atom of that dizzying intensity of the memories for another moment; and then torturing my heart with anxiety, with the frightening fantasies, rereading the burning and desperate pages of your letter, and waiting for your answer to my telegram.

– It is three in the afternoon, I have just received the telegram from Florence, and I have calmed down a little…

– I do not know, everything belonging to you, everything that has a distant relationship with you, everything that reminds me of you, it all moves me deeply and indescribably, and makes me quiver like a leaf, and moves me to tears …

I held your telegram before my eyes for a long time, without ever having enough; I kept it on my lips for I do not know how long, and with my lips I eagerly looked for a sign of your fingertips, I searched for the smell of you with my nose, I was searching for you, you, you, always you-

What a terrible excitement in my whole being! I cannot, nor can I address you with my thoughts and not even for a very short brief moment … Yes, it seems to me that my love has grown frighteningly … And it was so great, and it was so deep even before !

– It is only one day since we were together: it seems like infinity to me. They ask me: When did you return? I hesitate to answer: Yesterday.

I feel like I am telling a lie, I feel like I have been here, in this great fiery loneliness, for months already, and still with a fierce desire for you, to see you, to kiss you, to hold you, as if I would never see you again, never embrace you again, never kiss you again!

– Last night, as I folded the letter I felt great pain; I do not know, I felt unable to distance myself, I wanted to write, again, continue writing, to fool myself, to believe I was talking to you … who knows !

[…]
N.140

Pescara, 12th July, morning

My my my my my goddess!

I suffocate you with kisses, I bite you, I let your hair down, I twirl it around my neck like snakes, I lift you in my arms and run, carrying you like a child, while you cry out, while you laugh, covering you in wild kisses blindly, not caring where they fall, on your face, on your breasts, on your legs, on your hands, everywhere –

– But who teaches you, tell me, who teaches you to write these letters? Who teaches you these spells, this magic, these charms that lead me to madness, that tear supreme cries of love and desire from me, that make me tremble and cry, that make me forget everything else, tell me, who teaches you? –

– Yesterday I could not tear myself away from those pages, I read them, reread them without ever having enough, I drank them, let me say so!

– Oh, that dream, that dream, that unforgettable dream!

– You cannot imagine, Elda you cannot imagine what I felt, reading: I must have been as pale as a corpse, but lightning must have flashed from my eyes.

– My my my kind, my beautiful, my brilliant, my holy, my divine, immortal lover!

And, you know!, do not ever tell me again: no! it is not true!, when I speak to you this way, do not ever say so again because you hurt me, because you make me feel irresistible urges which burned my soul – Yesterday you wrote: No, I am not beautiful; I alone, there, like a lunatic, shouted :

– Yes, yes, yes, beautiful as a fairy, beautiful as my goddess, beautiful as my most beautiful dream as a poet ! And I repeated those words, trembling, choking with my tears.

[…]

N.150

’82. 6th August – Francavilla.

My goddess! I have here your little letter of today, a fervent lyric of love and desire: but where is the one of yesterday?

You do not mention it, therefore it is certain that you wrote as usual. Maybe it has been lost, in some way; maybe the address was not correct; who knows?

– I was really most sorry, and I am still sorry. Who knows how many lovely things you told me! Who knows how many sweet words!

– I, rather than lose a letter of yours, would lose forever the most beautiful of my odes, even a whole book on which I had worked for an entire year with great fatigue

– Your letters, these wonderful extremely delicate blossomings of your soul, these little poems which are stupendous in their harmony and passion, are sacred to me, they are relics, amulets which I would like to keep forever in my heart –

Here there is all of you, all of you is here with your irresistible force, with your deep melancholy, with your tears, with your sobs, with your long desires, with your lengthy dreams, with your deep sensual desire, with your virginal modesty; here there is all of you.

That huge sheaf of papers, which I have on my writing desk at home, is my intimate poem, that is what I call it; and it truly is a poem, a fascinating and musical and extremely luminous and human poem.

When we are husband and wife, with what intense joy and with what strange beating hearts will we reread those pages that sometimes seem to be written in the blood of our hearts!

[…]

N.199

Pescara, 11th September ‘82

My goddess, my goddess, my goddess

Your pale blue letter so full of love and gentle kindness has done my soul unspeakable good. I have read and reread it, and carried it around with me, close to my heart, all day.

– Thank you, thank you for Mama and Papa’s sweet words too. Give them a kiss from me, kiss them with tender strength, and tell them that I felt tears come to my eyes while reading and I ardently desired to feel their kisses on my faded brow –

– Now I feel much better, much better.

[…]
N.192

Villa, 9th October ‘82

My sorceress, it is a cold and grey winter morning. Yesterday the harvest sun flooded the countryside and the sea, and warmed me all the way along road. What a splendid ride in the mild and very clear afternoon, towards the divine and clement Adriatic.

– This morning the sky is ashen-grey, there is a bothersome humidity in the air which penetrates the bones.

– What are you doing? Are you happy? Is it sunny?

– You ask me insistently if I will come to Florence this month. Who knows? The best thing to do is not to make any promises or fixed arrangements, so there will be no worries or upsets.

– They will probably make me spend the whole month of October here; when I am in Rome, I will try to come, but I am not promising anything, I am not arranging anything any more, any more –

– You know that an intense desire for you torments me. I will do everything possible to try to see you again, as soon as I can.

[…]

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