In 1831, Giacomo Leopardi
wrote Il pensiero dominante
(“The Dominating Thought”), which exalts love as a vitalizing force, even when it is unrequited. The poem emerges from the painful experience of desperate and unrequited love for Fanny Targioni Tozzetti
.Il pensiero dominante
, in fact, features only the desire for love without the joy and the vitalizing spirit and, therefore, remaining thought, illusion. Leopardi destroys everything, condemns everything, but wishes to save love from the universal miasma and protect it at least within the profundity of his own soul. The more desolate the solitude which surrounds him, the more tightly he grasps onto love as the faith in his idealized, illusory, eternal woman (“sua donna”) who placates suffering, disillusion and bitterness. The poet of universal suffering sings of a good which surpasses the ills of life and, for an instant, seems to become the singer of a possible happiness. But the idea of death as the only hope for man returns, since the world offers only two beautiful things: love and death.