Day 43The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
Chapter 33 (to end)
April 4, 2023 by Michael F. Moore
The return to Pescarenico.
Poor Tonio, “Sitting listlessly on the ground, leaning against a jasmine bush.”
And all he can say is,
“When your time is up, it’s up.” (A chi la tocca, la tocca).
And Don Abbondio? As disgruntled as ever, but after his initial scolding of Renzo (“What are you doing here? Go back!”), we can see that he is buried in grief:
“With his head lowered, he kept exclaiming, ‘Poor boy!’ ‘Poor girl!’ ‘Poor things!’”
Renzo’s garden, one of the great tableaus of the novel. In this garden, Renzo, and we the readers, feel the full brunt of the plague’s devastation. The exuberance of the vegetation—all of it described with its proper botanical denomination—“untended by human hands.”
“Here and there fresh twigs or shoots sprouted from mulberry, fig, peach, cherry, and plum trees. But even they were choked and crowded out by a dense variety of new growth that had germinated and flourished, untended by human hands. There was a riot of nettles, ferns, ryegrass, scutch, goosefoot, wild oat, green amaranth, chicory, sorrel, cockspur, and the like, otherwise known as weeds by farmers throughout the world. There was a tangle of stalks competing to climb higher or spread wider than each other, creeping along the ground in every direction, through a jumble of leaves, flowers, and fruits of a hundred different colors, shapes, and sizes. Ears of wheat and corn were topped by tufts and clusters of white, red, yellow, and blue flowers.”