- Letters Home
In 1846 Margaret Fuller settled in Italy, sending articles about Giuseppe Mazzini’s effort to establish an independent Roman republic to the New York Daily Tribune. She also fell in love and gave birth. In 1850, she, Ossoli, and their son drowned in a shipwreck off Fire Island on their way back to America.
I try to imagine Rieti, you pregnant, the small room scent of sun and dampness, then
a Rome under siege, Mio caro, Mio amore you write Ossoli from Rieti, My husband is Roman, in a letter
to your mother, of a noble but now impoverished house.In him I have found a home, in him is a great
native refinement. In Rieti, daily to Ossoli, words of anxiety . . . so ignorant with a baby
these first days of his life. Then from Florence, our little boygrows better in the air. After leaving America
you come upon sorrow’s terraced hills, the body of ardor. My strength has been taxed to the utmost
to live. I have been deeply humiliated finding myselfinferior to many noble occasions, but precious
lessons have been given you write Emerson, who does not understand why you stay on amid bread and grapes . . . and pain.
You explain I want human beings to love. I have muchto do and learn in Europe. Methinks I have my part therein,
and begin to speak Italian, eat figs, the most delicious . . .for five or six cents. Your newborn near death, [End Page 185]
then cholera as close as Bologna, we think we have moneyto last till April, in Tuscany the purple grape hangs garlanded
from tree to tree. But there was never time to know the sum total—to reflect. Fires burned in Rome O Rome, my country
you confess, and describe Mazzini, the inspiring soulof his people who could not save Rome
as the Romans fought like lions, betrayed by France. You leave Angelino with a wet nurse.
I saw blood stream on the wall where Ossoli was.I have a piece of bomb that burst close to him, the gunshot
wounded take up the days. There is always rain, the too cold rooms, the suffering men, solace in tending
to the suffering men as you write Emerson again I know not,dear friend, whether I ever shall get home across that great ocean.
In Italy, feeding on ashes, it becomes useless to try and writeof these things, volumes would hardly begin to tell my thoughts,
there are words of the Mater Dolorosa, the fair young menbleeding to death, history outdoing your deepest loves.
Our destiny is sad; we much [sic] brave it as we can. [End Page 186]
Adrianne Kalfopoulou is the author of Wild Greens, a poetry collection, and Broken Greek, a memoir. Passion Maps, a second collection of poems, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Hotel Amerika, among other journals. She lives and teaches in Athens, Greece.