«Nature» and «Reason» are the two conficting principles used by Leopardi in order to examine human affairs. He engaged in a debate with modernist ideas of reason at the beginning of a century which had faith in material and civil progress, as reflected by the Romantics in the literary field. Leopardi, however, went beyond the mere denial of reality: in his first youthful writings as well as in his early poetical works he captured the moments of epochal change in the long history of humanity, which correspond to a compromise between nature and reason, between action and philosophy, recognising for example the political change which had been sparked by the French Revolution. But, for each individual human being, it is impossible to escape the tension, even just for one day, between natural feeling and civilisation. La ginestra, one of his last poetic compositions, in which the poet speaks on behalf of an entire nation, is devoid of hope.
Keywords: Leopardi, Poesia e storia, Tempo