The emphasis that scholarship has placed on the integral autobiographic character of Leopardi’s oeuvre draws his work near to the contemporary Romantic context, one defined by the conflicting relationship between a hypertrophic poetic human subjectivity and a natural nonhuman object that, deprived of its own autonomy, is reduced to a mere representational embodiment of human imagination. I intend to offer an alternative interpretation of Leopardi’s production by underscoring the crucial role that John Locke plays for Leopardi’s philosophical under-standing and aesthetic representation of nature. By focusing on An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, along with Francesco Soave’s translation of Locke’s treatise, in the first part I propose three reasons to justify the influence that Locke exerts over Leopardi’s materialistic speculations vis-à-vis the generally-agreed-upon role played by the French Idéologues. In the second part of the article, I show how under the implicit sway of Locke, Leopardi’s poetic production turns into an aesthetic space where proto-ecological responsibility becomes possible. I use Canto notturno di un pastore errante dell’Asia as a representation of a subjectivity intent to enfranchising nature and emancipating it from the hypertrophy that characterizes the canonically understood Romantic poetic subject. The result of such an effort is a kind of poetry that I call “of inquiry” through which the subject gives back to nature its voice, one that is constituted by the very silent presentiality of the matter that constitutes it.