Edmondo de Amicis, "On the Ocean."

The transoceanic journey

By the time I arrived, toward evening, the boarding of emigrants had already begun an hour ago, and the Galileo, joined to the lowering by a small movable bridge, continued to bag misery: an interminable procession of people coming out in groups from the building opposite, where a delegate from the Questura was examining passports. Most, having spent one or more nights in the open air, crouched like dogs on the streets of Genoa, were tired and full of sleep. Workers, peasants, women with babies on their breasts, little boys who still had the tin plate from kindergarten still attached to their chests passed by, almost all carrying a folding chair under their arm, bags and suitcases of all shapes in their hand or on their heads, armfuls of mattresses and blankets, and the ticket with the bunk number clutched between their lips. [...] As they ascended, the emigrants passed a small table, at which the Commissary officer was seated; who gathered them into groups of half a dozen, called ranches, inscribing the names on a printed sheet, which he handed back to the eldest streetwalker, so that he might go with that to fetch food from the kitchen, at mealtimes. [...] Then the families separated: the men on one side, on the other the women and boys were led to their dormitories. And it was a pity to see those women strenuously descending the steep stairs, and groping their way forward through those vast and low dormitories, among those innumerable bunks arranged in tiers like the pallets of chariot-makers, [...] At last the sailors at the stern and the bow were heard shouting at once: - Who is not a walker, ashore! These words caused a quiver to run from one end of the Galileo to the other. In a few minutes all the strangers descended, the deck was lifted, the oarsmen removed, the ladder raised: a whistle was heard, and the steamer began to move. Then women burst into tears, laughing young men became serious, and a few bearded men were seen . hitherto impassive, passing a hand over their eyes. [...] But the spectacle was the third class, where most of the emigrants, seasick, lay in bulk, thrown across to the benches, in the attitude of the sick or the dead, their faces grimy and their hair shaggy, amidst a great ruffling of blankets and rags. [...] Even those who did not suffer looked dejected, and more like deportees than emigrants. It seemed as if the first experience of the inert and uncomfortable life of the ship had dampened in almost all the courage and hopes with which they had left, and that in that prostration of soul that followed the agitation of departure, the sense of all the doubts, all the tediousness and bitterness of the last days of their home life had been reawakened in them, [...] The Galileo carried one thousand six hundred third-class passengers, of whom more than four hundred were women and children. [...] All the seats were filled. [...] the entire bow [...] vast square crowded with passengers, having along the two sides the stables of the oxen and horses, the crates of the pigeons and hens, the cages of the rams and rabbits, at the end the steam wash-house and the slaughter-house, on this side the fresh-water hinges and the sea-water tanks, in the middle the tavern-house and the hatchway of the women's dormitories, closed by a bizarre superimposition of glazed roofs, which served as seats for the women.

EDMONDO DE AMICIS, On the ocean, Milan 1889, pp. various.


Emigration between art and literature. On theOcean by Edmondo De Amicis illustrated by Arnaldo Ferraguti (follows)

Giovanni Pascoli, "Italy"

Early Poems

ITALY - Sacred to the 'Italy raminga

"Song One "


In Caprona, one evening in February,
People were coming, and they were already on the erect,
He was coming up from Cincinnati, Ohio.

The street, in that weather, was deserted.
It was raining, first slowly, now hard,
Drumming on the open umbrella.

The Ghita and Beppe of Thaddeus down there
Were, under the waxed umbrella
Of the father: a girl, a young man.

And there was also a sickly child,
In Beppe's neck, and up his shoulder
Stirred down the blond long rings.

Daughter of another son, she was a talla
Of the old stock born there: Mary:
Of eight years: it had the weight of a gall.

To returners for the long way,
Already close to the ancient hearth,
Their church rang the Hail Mary.

They were tired! they had passed the sea!
Just barely through the rain and wind
I hear them now yes or no sound.

Mary cradled by the going up slow
He almost seemed to surrender to sleep,
Under the umbrella. Drunk and happy

Was coming slowly behind all the grandfather.


They were going up, now all behind Grandpa,
the broken ladder. Old Wolf at the bottom
He did not bark; he wagged his tail amid sleep.

And he groped under their foot the stone
In front of the doorway. There had always been
By the threshold, for help with the step.

And the doorway, as always, was pitched.
In there, dark as if to close your eyes.
And it was dark in the kitchen on the side.

Mother? Maybe come down for two logs....
maybe in the hut to mòlgere.... No, it was
At the hearth above the two knees.

He had cleaned crib and rack;
Now, he lit... He heard dim sounding:
Was on his knees, said the prayer.

It appeared in the darkness little by little.
"Mother, why don't you light your lamp?
Mother, why don't you light a fire?"

"Jesus! that I was late with the rosume..."
And into the sticks she blew, half-burned;
And his wrinkles appeared in the glimmer.

And he picked up, without yet looking back,
All dismayed, ahead of her, Mother,
jugs, twigs, reeds, scattered

On the hearth. And the flame rose.


And the children saw her again at the flame
Of the hearth, curved, wispy.
"But you are sad! you are sad, O mother!"

And approaching the eyes, it, the tip
Of the panhandle, with a thread of voice:
"And is the Cecco proud? And how is the Assumption doing?"

"But you! But you!" "There there, with my cross."
The rough walls appeared with the counter
old and the old walnut board.

Again, a Moor, with no other white
than his eyes and teeth, he was glued to the wall,
The line on the shoulder and one hand at the hip:

stuff from there. Everything was old, dark.
The blowing of cows was heard, and the site
Of the hut emptied the habitation.

Beppe sat with a sore head
Between the two hands. The little blond girl
Now he winked here and there with his finger.

He spoke, and his grandmother, trembling,
Was listening and then said, "Doesn't it seem
a loo when he sings in the frond?"

He spoke his overseas language:
"... a chicken-house" "a little loo..."
"... for mice and rats" "who enjoy chirping,

zi zi" "Bad country, Ioe, your Italy!"


Italy, I think, took it badly.
Mary, the night (it was Candlemas),
He heard thumps as if down the stairs....

Three four wagons rolled... Now
Saw, the child, what had passed from it!
the snow! the snow, at which the dawn shone.

A large sheet covered the torso
Of the Homo-dead. In the silence around
It seemed to sob the Bear Brook.

Seemed a wagon, at the whitening of the day,
Would redescend the erta with a lazzo
squeak. Not a wagon, it was a starling,

a stornello at the top of the palace
forsaken, who thought he was
March, and squeaked: March, a sun and a gouache!

Maria looked on. Two red rosettes
Had, had distant tears
In his eyes, an hour by hour cough.

Grandmother meanwhile repeated, "This morning.
it's cold!" A worn white borracciol
put on the table and sliced bread.

Homemade bread and freshly milked milk.
Dicea: "Child, stand by the fire: nieva!
nieva!" And here Beppe added complacently:

"Poor Molly! you can't find pai con fleva here!"


Oh! no: there was neither pie nor flavor there.
Nor all the rest. He broke down in a great cry:
"Ioe, what does nieva mean? Never? Never? Never?"

Oh! no: it would stay in Italy so long
For her to recover: one month or two, poor Molly!
And Ioe would enjoy this bit of scianto!

Bellowed the wind that descended from the hills
white with snow. She ate, then mute
stared at the flame with soft eyes.

He came, knowing of their coming,
people, and something answered all
Ioe, grave: "Oh yes, he is proud... he greets you....

many bisini, oh yes... No, it holds a frutti-.
I lay... Oh yes, he sells queers, candi, scrima...
Count coin: can campar with the fruits...

The beret does not yield as much as before....
Yes, a salon, which has so many edges to it....
Yes, I saw him again in taking the estimate..."

The tramontano descended with deaf
grumbling. Everyone was enjoying the dear
Memories, dear but why memories:

When landed from the unknown seas
Flowed the unknown lands with a cry
Foreigner in the mouth, earning money

To make a camp, to make a nest again....


A little field to spade, a nest.
To rest: rest, and again
To cast that distant cry into a dream:

Will you buy -- for Chicago and Baltimore,
buy images... for Troy, Memphis, Atlanta,
With a voice that accurses yourself:

cheap!... in the night, alone in the midst of so much
people; cheap! cheap! amidst an oppressive howl;
cheap!... Finally, another odi, singing...

You don't know how, around you the peaks
Are from the Alps, in which the sky is reddened:
Who sings, is the rooster above your manure.

"La mi' Mèrica! When that frost enters,
That one finds that irrigation stove
For the grand coke, and it's back, poor fellow!

Or it goes away, beaten by the rain.
Find a farm. You want to buy? Show the beret.
A man buys everything. Also, he lodges it!"

Said some; and they assented to the saying
The others sat within the black house,
Blacker under the white hem of the roof.

One looked at the little stranger,
Before unseen, mute, who coughed.
"You like this country..." Ella denied sternly:

"Oh no! Bad Italy! Bad Italy!"


Italy then will really get angry!
It rained; and the rain erased from the roof
That little bit of white, and made everything black.

The sky, it seemed, had tightened,
And spilled waterfalls upon waterfalls!
O ironworker, short and cursed!

Ghita said, "Mother, what are you spinning at?
No lines in Mèrica. Son uses
Of yesteryear, of fairy time.

Oh yes! spinning! Assai confused me there
as a child. Now there's the car that sparks
Of a whisker only a hundred thousand spindles.

Oh yes! Far more than your rócca!
And it spins together. And it pains then the life
And one feels one's mouth drain!"

Mother then with her thin fingers
His gleanings traea down rarer,
For each one to be beautiful united.

He saw the fairies, he saw them snap
melted by the thousands, and lingered for a long time
In his little corner by the hearth.

He said, "Go to bed, I will join you."
He saw the thousand fairies in the caves
lit. To her did the mushroom

The little lamp in the dark night.


It was always raining. Maybe they come out, at night,
The stars, a little, to listen for everything
Gemer the showers and ciangottar the caves.

A little bit, just barely. After that, it was uglier:
It rained harder after the stillness.
O ferraiuzzo, little one and putto!

Ghita said, "Mother, what do you weave?
There he can buy, for a few cents, whoever he wants,
cambrì, percalli, lustri as silks.

And then life you say pains you!
There is telari in Mèrica, in which go
Every minute a hundred thousand bobbins.

And there are a thousand of them in each city, which make
Each so much canvas in one shot,
As much as you don't do at the end of the year."

Said the mother, "The arm that I blackmail
Nice guy, he wants to be a rotello.
O daughter, more is not to be done, the fact."

And tended with subbio and subbiello
other rows. The child, there, from a chant,
put in the spoletto more blowtorch.

She stood there as good as at an enchantment,
In that low vòlta celliere,
Molly, and she coughed a little, but only

Between the noise of the healds and the chest.


Between the noise of healds and the chest
coughed, that Grandma did not hear.
Grandmother often said to her, "Will you get over it?"

"Yes," she replied. One day then he told her:
"Don't come here!" But she would come there,
And he stood there with his pupils fixed.

He enjoyed watching the jubilant
dance of the healds, and to hold in their hands
the shiny olive nacelle.

She stood there good at the foot of a soppian;
Turned the reel, filled reeds,
And then he coughed inside himself slowly.

One day water was coming in streams,
stared at the grandmother and asked, "Die?" Grandmother
caressed her soft hair.

The child then plan for the skirt
He climbed up to her, lying on her knees:
"Die?" "And what have I to tell you poor woman?"

The child then closed her eyes a little:
"Die! Die!" Grandmother whispered, "Sleep?"
"No! No!" The child closed her eyes even more,

Abandoned himself for more than sleep,
Folded his hands over his chest, "Die!
Die! Die!" Grandmother stammered, "Die!"

"Oh yes! Molly die in Italy!"