/ 13 June 2019

The Week of the Festival: Parole Spalancate, Genoa, Italy

The Forest Living Within Us


There is
this silence of mine.
And there is the silence that inhabits 

the big trees. And there are the huge forests, which 

are great silences divided and sorted. And then there is 

the depth of existence, of pulsing, of being born and 

of dying. And eventually, or at the beginning, 

there is thought, that does not lie a moment, 

even when I meditate gallops and invades 

and slots in. A good meditation
approaches this silence of mine
to the silence of the wood, it makes them vibrate 

together, an assonance that recalls the starting point and
the point of arrival.


You can assert that Italian vernacular must have been born on the edge of a forest, in the open countryside or at the very least with one foot immersed in the greenery. You need only think of the incipit of Dante Alighieri’s Commedia, later dubbed Divine by Boccaccio: “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, / mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, / che la diritta via era smarrita, Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura, / esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte, / che nel pensier rinova la paura!.”

Take otherwise the example of the poor man from Assisi’s Cantico delle creature, “Laudato si’, mi’ Signore, per sora nostra matre terra, la quale ne sustenta et governa, et produce diversi fructi con coloriti flori et herba.”

Or even one of the three known sonnets by the first Italian female poet, Compiuta Donzella of Florence (1200-1300, circa), titled A la stagion che ‘l mondo foglia e fiora: “A la stagion che ‘l mondo foglia e fiora / acresce gioia a tut[t]i fin’ amanti: / vanno insieme a li giardini alora / che gli auscelletti fanno dolzi canti.” 


The one 

opening this 

book he risks great:

from his feet roots could 

sprout, from his hands fronds 

of hornbeam or strawberry tree.

He could meet himself, in a dream, 

or wake up with the duty to discern between 

opportunity and truth, at his disadvantage.

Nature has nothing good, it operates

and passes out, it renews in the 

blood of defeated. We are 

nerves and feelings that 

a light breath can

confuse, or the shadow of 
a cloud hide. Human nature is

not the rock, it’s the rustle of 

a Goldfinch’s flight

Nature, trees, meadows, any part of what we nowadays call landscape, have been a source of bountiful inspiration since the birth of Italian vernacular language. Humans turn back to nature when they need to forget, to escape, to make up their own, personal earthly paradise, capable of consuming us to the point of forgetting anything else. We turn to nature as we would to a mother’s womb. And the more recent pain, failure, detachment and loss are, the more a desire reopens in us to inhabit a silence born of the same matrix as which was once prayer. Let it be well understood: this is not silence per se, not simply being quiet, without uttering a word, waiting for something to come. It is turning into silence, a quieting, to open up the possibility of an encounter between the silence and God, be it a codified God, like our Lord of the Bible, or a constant mutation of energy and strength, such as the Tao might be, the Way, or that vast pulsation of movements, planets, constellations that is the universe described today by physics and astronomy. Adriana Zarri wrote that prayer is nothing like the repetition of a formula, but rather a mad enchantment or nothing at all (inOur Lord of the Desert). And enchantment it is, because one falls in love, one gets lost, in this search for the word of a God, of an eternal, of an immense one.



to breath in 

the hollow trunk 

of a mulberry, I crossed 

the threshold of adulthood

to live in a continent between 

paper and bark, and to once 

again plumb the landscape

with the eyes of a child, 

the vibrant fire 

of a wizened 

Z   e   n 



One proceeds therefore according to a “knowledge” or “poetic reason,” as the philosopher Maria Zambrano would have said in her last essay, Los bienadventurados, but also along an “Orphic-Pythagorean Path” (in the essay De la aurora). Feeling and understanding both, vision and reason together. Her descriptions of philosophers, mystics, of the blessed, still touch me deeply. I feel they are alive, they vibrate in these hours I cross meditating and writing, like sparkling truths, like whiplashes that give me life and vigor, while also consuming all available moments. The woods, nature is all I have said so far. Since that April day several years ago when I touched the “singing silence” of a redwood forest in California and wrote a poem that became the very definition of Homo Radix (“Root man”), the root man I became: Homo Radix – [lat. hŏmo radix] (pl. root men). – 1. Man or woman daily living in close connection with the Earth and the natural and plant elements, with a particular focus in their own local roots, enhancing the values and resources of the land they live and work in. – 2. A root man or woman is that individual who knows how to travel around the world creating new connections with the landscape they are passing through. A vital element to this connection is the tree, especially a centuries-old or monumental tree.





if you don’t welcome him

he kills you

This is where my awareness or poetic reason blossomed, a first glimpse baptized the path I have walked since, without knowing where, if ever, it may land. Such an amazing path, full of emotions, wonder and discoveries, and also, sometimes, no less than solitude and silence, full of terror, dismay and exhaustion, almost turning into total blindness and sadness without bounds. And then, a few steps later, a new voice, a new touch, a new place to live. Meditation has strengthened my perception and clarity, has fueled new ideas, new attempts, has broken up knots and, obviously, opened up new branches So it is: any hypothesis of happiness opens the gates of something that will bring pain, lack, impotence, and so on, according to the well-sealed movement of the rotating circle of yin and yang.



seed falls 

into the earth, 

it moves while it is 

still nothing, generates life 

that is not there. God has invented 

it because he could not make 

a tree, too busy to root 

inform of stone. The 

seed is God 

unable to 

sit still

Dendrosophy – [gr. δένδρον (déndron), “tree” and σοφία (sophìa), “wisdom, knowledge, love”]. – 1. Dendrosophy unites all types of knowledge concerning history, biology, botany, forest studies, anthropology, literature, etc. related to trees and the woods. – 2. A meditation practice  involving immersion in a natural environment, such as reserves, mountain landscapes or ancient forests, deserts –  to cultivate inner peace. – 3. The one who practices d. is called dendrosopher, from σοφός (sophòs), “sage.” Arborgrammaticus– (pl. unchanged, from lat.). Arborgrammaticus  is the great tree that regulates life and time, it is the king of the forest, it is God for men, memory and ultimate witness of the history of that piece of the world. There are tree seekers and root men who study them, admire them and try to hear their song. From here, I start every day meditating in the woods, to the murmur of a stream that pierces through me, that dilates me, that annihilates me. And to this point I return, with the load of messages that life itself generates and bundles up.


The text en prose has been published in the volume Natural Capital in Italy(2019, Edizioni Ambiente in Milan supported by Connect 4 Climate / World Bank). Poems have been translated by Eleonora Matarrese, except The Seed of God, by Pasquale Verdicchio.

Written by Tiziano Fratus: Crossing the coniferous forests of California Tiziano Fratus has fine-tuned the concepts of Homo Radix and Dendrosophy, practicing daily meditation in nature. His silvan books have been published by leading publishing houses in Italy, while his verses have been translated into 10 languages and published in 17 countries. He directs the radio program Nova Silva Philosophica. He lives where the plain dissipates and the mountains begin to take root. Website: