First published in 1831, and here presented in a dual-language edition with some of his lesser-known unpublished poems, Leopardi's poetical masterpiece is an unsurpassed anatomy of man's unhappiness on earth. Trapped between an admiration for the classical past and a disappointment in the impoverished present, Leopardi rejected both the easy allure of Catholic faith and the unbridled optimism proposed by science and the Enlightenment. In his world view, all that we love and value is illusion, the truth existing deep in our minds and souls as poignant memories, unrequited passion and stoical acceptance of nature's bleak elementals. Leopardi's unflinching pessimism and existential resolve, here brilliantly rendered in verse by prize-winning translator J.G. Nichols, make him the most fascinating and best loved of the Italian poets.