Meaningful. Active and interesting. Strong.
___Simply not counting the days, as if stray,
______dreary, unworthy, but making them count,
serve, be remembered and blest all along.
___Challenges ought to be faced on the way,
______obstacles scattered for us to surmount.

We would meander through deserts at length,
___probe the abysses of oceans and peaks,
______capture the glitter of stars from the sky.
That would require every bit of our strength,
___surely the best of our skills and mystiques.
______Only such wonders could satiate our eye.


Alessio Zanelli is an Italian poet who writes in English and whose work has appeared in over 150 literary journals from 13 countries. He has published 4 full collections to date, most recently Over Misty Plains (Indigo Dreams, UK, 2012). For more information please visit

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15 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    Love it for lots of reasons; message, meter pattern, appearance, accessibility to name a few.

    Well done Alessio!

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    This is excellent dactylic tetrameter — a difficult meter to handle, but Zanelli does it quite nicely. The only small fix I’d suggest is in the last line, where the word “satiate” is being used as if it were a disyllable (SAY- shate). I always take it as a trisyllable (SAY-shee- ate). If Zanelli lives in the UK, he is perhaps using a British pronunciation with which I am unfamiliar.

    In place of “satiate,” I’d use a clear disyallble such as “nourish” or “gladden.”

    • Alessio Zanelli

      Hi Joseph,
      thank you for your words.
      I live in Italy (with an English wife…) and in fact the British pronunciation of “satiate” is slightly different, a bit curter, let’s say 2.5 syllables instead of 3 (if that makes sense…).The meaning of “satiate” is perfect for the poem, but I’m seriously thinking of replacing it (with “nourish”, as you suggest, or “surfeit”), to make the meter perfect.
      As to the meter, it can be seen as a tetrameter (three dactyls plus a single stressed syllable) or a trimeter (two dactyls plus a choriamb).

  3. Amy Foreman

    This is an enjoyable poem, Allesio! Thank you for sharing it with us. Another thought alongside Mr. Salemi’s suggestion is to change the plurals “oceans . . . peaks . . . skills . . . mystiques” to singulars: “ocean, . . . peak, . . . skill, . . . mystique.” I’ve usually heard “mystique” used without an “s,” and the rest of the words would work in their singular forms here as well–perhaps altering “probe the abysses of oceans and peaks,” to “probe the abyss of each ocean and peak.”

    Of course, I’m only suggesting this as a possible consideration, . . . any minor alteration like this comes down to the poet’s personal preference. The poem is very nice as is! . . . Blessings.

  4. Mark Stone

    Alessio, Hello. 1. To make S1L1 flow more smoothly, I would change it from three sentences to one sentence. Such as: “Meaningful, interesting, active and strong.” 2. To me, S1L2 would sound more natural if you changed “Simply not…” to “Not simply…” 3. Overall, this poem is very nicely done.

    • Monty

      Cheers, Mark.

      When I first read the piece a few days back, the obvious reversal of ‘simply not’ hit me square on the jaw; but I didn’t comment upon it lest I sounded officious.

      Thus, I’m mildly relieved that another human has exposed it; ‘cos I consider it to be a crucial ‘reversal’ in the context of that line.

    • Alessio Zanelli

      Hi Mark,
      the first suggestion is really interesting (I’ll think about it), the second could induce the reader to miss the meter, because “simply” is stressed on the first syllable, so that the first foot would no longer be a dactyl, but an amphibrach.
      I know that as to syntax “not simply” is better than “simply not”, but allow me this license for the sake of meter!
      Thank you.

      • Monty

        I take it, Alessio, that ‘Existence’ is all your own work; without any assistance from your (english) wife. If so, you’ve got a commendable grasp of english for one who’s tongue is not native to that. How did you master the language so well . . just through education? Advanced education? Are both of your parents natural Italians?

        In spoken-english, the difference between ‘simply not’ and ‘not simply’ is massive! Let me try to give an example:

        1/ Imagine two prisoners who’ve been sharing a cell for a few years; and one of them has only 30 days before he’s freed:
        “Only 30 days left: you must be really excited?” . . “Well, I did start counting the days last week, but it seems to make it go slower. So, I’m SIMPLY NOT counting the days now, until it gets to within 3-4 days”.
        See? Instead of counting the days, it becomes NOT counting the days; and a reader could easily interpret it that way.

        2/ Imagine the captain of a sports team being interviewed:
        “You only just managed to qualify for the tournament; how do you think your team will go?” . . “Well, we’re NOT SIMPLY here to make the numbers up; but to try and make it count by winning the tournament.”
        See? The ‘not simply’ carries the reader through to ‘but making it count’ . . the ‘not’ corresponds with the ‘but’.

        Another example: one might say, “Well, if my name’s not on the guest-list: then I’m simply not going”. That means they’re NOT going.

        But one wouldn’t say, “Well, if my name’s not on the guest-list: then I’m not simply going.” Because that would mean that they ARE going, but NOT EASILY (simply): as in they ARE going, but with difficulty.

        I know what you’re saying about the meter; but, as important as meter is . . nothing is more important than the reader’s grasp of diction.

  5. Alessio Zanelli

    Hi Monty,
    I am aware of that and, actually, the intended meaning is “(what it takes is) simply, not counting the days”. So it can work also as is, maybe placing a comma after simply (what do you think?). In other words the meaning is: to make life strong, interesting, etc. one, to put it simply, mustn’t be counting the days, but make them count. The concept, if I remember well, is after a quote by Mohammed Ali.
    I am completely self-taught in English (since the mid 1980’s) and when I met my wife (in 2008) I was already very fluent and I had already been published in some 100 literary magazines.
    A language (specially English) is a living thing, changing all the time, so that if, say, an American goes to England and stays there for a decade or so, when he goes back home he may have some little problems in understanding and being understood.
    I’m always trying to learn, because the language spoken “in the street” (slang, jargon, idioms, etc.) is always evolving, and it can be slightly different in every street of the world where it represents the main language.

    • Monty

      That was a good explanation, Alessio: I now understand your intended meaning of ‘simply not’.

      I still don’t think it’s the best way of putting it, but at least I can now make sense of it.

      But, if that’s how it’s meant to read, then I feel that the word ‘but’ in the 3rd line should be changed to ‘just’.

      If it read ‘not simply’, then the following ‘but’ would be correct (as in my above example: ‘We’re not simply here to take part in the tournament.. but to win it’). The ‘but’ naturally follows the ‘not’.. as in ‘not this . . but that’.
      But if it’s the opposite meaning (your meaning), then it would read: ‘We’re simply not here to win the tournament.. just to enjoy ourselves’.

      Hence, I feel your diction would be better if it read: ‘We’re simply not counting the days . . just making them count’.


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