Passion for Solitude by Cesare Pavese explores the end of a day, with a man watching the world become quiet from his house. He does not interact with anyone, being far away from other houses. Pavese’s character enjoys the solitude, feeling calm in the silence.
Passion for Solitude is a tribute to the quiet moments in life, with Pavese emphasizing the peace that comes from being alone. He explores this idea by placing his character within a house, the outside world seeming far away and foreign. Even the beauty of nature is not enough to entice the man from his house, indeed, he can see it from the window anyway. Far away from others, he does not have to put up with the loud noises that society makes, instead of enjoying the silence in his own company. The poem moves slowly, reflecting the approaching night and continuous silence.
You can read the full poem Passion for Solitude here.
Passion for Solitude is split by Pavese into four stanzas of unequal lengths. They measure 7, 9, 8, and 6 lines respectively, with varying syllable counts and uses of punctuation. The poem begins close to the speaker, with him looking out the window in the first stanza. The second and third move further into the world, with the speaker examining nature far away outside. The final stanza returns to the speaker, the man feeling the ‘calm’ of his body in the silent dark.
Cesare Pavese uses end stop on the majority of lines within Passion for Solitude. This means that as a reader approaches the end of a line, they slow down, with a slight pause before beginning the next. In doing this, Pavese slows down the meter of the poem, causing it to be read slowly – mimicking the atmosphere of the speaker sitting silently in the dark.
Pavese also uses caesura, which has the same impact of slowing the poem. But also, these caesuras emphasize aspects that are important within the poem, such as the distinction between the man inside and the rest of the world ‘Outside,’ within the second stanza.
Passion for Solitude Analysis
Passion for Solitude begins with ‘I’m’, instantly focusing Passion for Solitude on the speaker himself. Indeed, the poem is introspective, quiet and deliberate, with the speaker, therefore, positioning himself as the most important aspect of the poem. What he is doing is trivial, ‘eating a little supper,’ even himself deeming it ‘little’. Yet, he is content in this triviality, allowing himself to simply enjoy these small moments of independence.
The depiction of the ‘bright window’ suggests that the rest of the world outside his house is ‘bright’ and active. This is furthered by the presentation of his room, ‘already dark’, compared against the bright outside world. This could be understood as a negative image, with sunlight being happy and darkness signifying his sadness. Yet, the speaker is content in his darkness, he enjoys the silence and the lack of light, ‘my body is calm’, looking out peacefully at the ‘open fields’.
The first distinction between the speaker’s location and other people is represented by ‘the bright window’, a point of contact, yet barrier from, the rest of the world. This idea of barriers or borders is continued by the caesura after ‘Outside my door,’ with the caesura enforcing a slight pause which represents the separation between the speaker and the ‘Outside’.
The speaker takes his time watching the outside world, ‘watching the sky—‘, the hyphen furthering this sense of him sitting silently and just experiencing the outside. Passion for Solitude progresses slowly, the speaker is in no rush to finish.
The distinction between himself and the rest of the world is repeated here, ‘Outside,’ showing the border in place. Again, the use of caesura emphasis this barrier, the structural break in the line reflecting the separation between the speaker and the others outside.
The beauty of nature is presented within this stanza, ‘The stars are alive’. Yet, they are not important compared to the enjoyment of eating ‘cherries’, with the speaker enjoying being alone and slowly eating. Although beautiful to watch, he prefers being inside where he is ‘calm’.
Pavese ensures that the reader understands that the speaker is alone during this period, ‘I’m eating alone.’, the end stop enforcing a pause which emphasis this final word, ‘alone’. The poem is a dedication to being ‘solitude’, the state of being alone something that the speaker finds peaceful.
There is an introspective distancing that the speaker experiences, talking of his own body in the third person, ‘it feels detached from things’. The use of ‘it’ is another layer of this distancing, even the speaker feels like he is not truly there. The use of ‘it’ also exemplifies the rest of the line, quite literally detaching himself from his body while he explains that it is ‘detached from things’.
The final two lines use sibilance to continue the soothing atmosphere invoked within Passion for Solitude, ‘a small dose of silence surfaces’. This is furthered by the repetition of ‘still’ as the final line of these two sentences. The poet is enduring a state of calm, perfectly echoing the sentiment of his speaker. The silence and dark are something to be embraced within the poem, the slow meandering of verse a reflection of the speaker’s peaceful mindset.
Even the level of noise within his house is reduced, just a faint ‘murmur of silence’. There is something familiar and comforting about this ‘silence’, the ‘darkness’ something that the speaker understands, ‘I can know all of them’, those ‘things in this darkness’. He knows the darkness just as he knows ‘that blood flows in my veins’, the silent house is something he is incredibly familiar with.
This stanza lists a number of things that he recognizes, those things in close proximity to him – contrasting directly to the exploration of the ‘stars’ in the previous stanza. He discusses ‘plant, each stone’, ‘water’, all these things that exist within his life. He describes what he knows as his ‘plain’, the close area around him being far enough away from the ‘noise’ of other people.
Time passing seems to be unimportant to the speaker, ‘The night doesn’t matter’. He is far enough away from everything that his house is seen as ‘alien’ to others, ‘far from all foods, from all houses’, it just exists in the distance. The speaker enjoys his silent isolation, describing the rest of humanity as ‘loud noises to me’. They ‘struggle in emptiness’, but the speaker loves this nothingness, taking joy from silence and darkness.
The final two lines compound this idea of the speaker being perfectly content in his own house, far from everything. ‘Here in the dark, alone, my body is calm, it feels it’s in charge’, the use of both ‘dark’ and ‘alone’ exemplifying his existence. He can do what he likes in his house, being totally ‘calm’, away from the noise and the bustle of civilization. Pavese displays a speaker that, as the title suggests, enjoys being alone, the silence and the dark comforting to him in his house from the distance.