APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Sole Nicola

Nicola Sole is acclaimed to be the best poet of the Lucanian Risorgimento, and in fact Francesco De Sanctis devoted two lectures to him. Born in Senise on March 30, 1821, in a middle-class family, Nicola Sole lost his father and was entrusted to his uncle Giuseppe Antonio Sole, a clergyman who took care of his education. So he was sent to seminary in Tursi, where he stayed from 1831 to 1835. From 1836 to 1840 he did his medical practice, in San Chirico Raparo first, then in San Giorgio Lucano. In 1840 he moved to Naples where, after quitting medicine, he started studying law. Meanwhile, Nicola Sole was following his vocation for literature by attending the city literary salons and coteries. Those were the years of the Giobertian neo-Guelphism, according to which Pope Pius the Ninth was the prospective originator of the unification of Italy, even if as a federation headed by Pius the Ninth himself. These were moderate ideas, which suited well the personality and education received by the young Sole.

After taking his degree, he moved to Potenza, where he started practising law and taking part in the patriotic-liberal movement which was very lively in the city in those years. After the 1848 uprisings, Sole praised King Ferdinand II and the Constitution highly. Like anyone else, Sole was disappointed by the about-turn of the King’s, who cancelled the Constitution on May of the same year. Meanwhile, Sole published his first collection of patriotic verse, L’arpa lucana.

When the reaction broke out, Nicola Sole was affected by the repressive measures introduced by the king, too. After being sentenced, Sole went on the run, like many others, from 1849 to 1852. In 1853, encouraged by his clergyman brother, Sole gave himself up obtaining, by doing so, condonation and discharge. This behaviour was to alienate many of his friends.

Sole retired to Senise, where he spent many months reading and writing in isolation and solitude. He wanted to go back to Naples, to come into contact again with the capital city and its intellectual circles. Sole achieved his goal and obtained the approval to move to Naples: he left Senise and made friends with Verdi. This friendship did not last long because Verdi returned to Busseto. In 1857, on the 16th and 17th of December, a devastating earthquake occurred; in 1858, Sole published a new collection of verse entitled, after Leopardi, Canti. The publication was supported by the monarchy, and Sole decided to donate the proceeds of the sale to the earthquake victims. The same year, and to express gratitude to the Bourbon, Sole composed the Cantata on occasion of the wedding between the Duke of Calabria and Mary Sophia of Bavaria (with music composed by Saverio Mercadante, born in Altamura). The day after, on a wall in Naples, a graffiti read “The Basilicata sun [in Italian, sole = sun] is set.” Sole retired embittered to Senise, took ill and died on December 11, 1859, on the eve of the Expedition of the Thousand, that is to say a few months before the realization of the Unification of Italy, which had been one of his most sincere dreams, secretly cherished even after the events of 1848.

Sole was in fact a catholic and a liberal, close to Gioberti and Manzoni, but his literary models, which were many and different, are to be found among the Romantic poets: his lyrics are either dedicated to, or bear as an epigraph, verse by Berchet, Foscolo, Lamartaine, Byron, and most of all by Leopardi. Among his models, there were Alfieri and Dante, too.

Greek and Latin classics, such as Tirteo and Pindaro, took part into his education. Among the Italian classics, Petrarca. His poetry fluctuated between an easy patriotism and the imitation of many authors, with affectations which were typical of the Arcadia (actually, he was an Arcadia member under the name of Leandro Abidiese). Consequently, many were the traditional metres he adopted: ballad, sonnet, song, madrigal, hymn, romance. In most cases, as De Sanctis emphasized, they were improvised, occasional verse. His patriotic verse were occasional, too, confined to the circumstances which originated them. As the poet himself wrote in his preface to Arpa Lucana, his verse were written “rapidly and during a continuous string of miraculous events.” Occasional were his lyrics dedicated to the “electric cable,” to the slave trade, to many women, to a flower in a graveyard, to a nightingale, on occasion of weddings and funerals.

Like that of any other occasional poet, Nicola Sole’s literary production is overflowing, and it’s hard to find episodes of recollection. Its best is to be found, according to De Sanctis, in those verse which deal with his native valley or mountains, or the Ionian region, everlasting sepulchre of ancient glories. For the rest, one can appreciate his sincerity, but although sincerity is a prerequisite condition for poetry, sincerity on its own is not enough to create poetry …

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