Translated by Giulia Greco
(Swans - February 27, 2012) What's poetic in poetry? By mentioning a sentence by Rimbaud « Voici de la prose sur l'avenir de la poésie ». We write about poems, when versification becomes art, and the relationship between spirit and world (Y. Bonnefoy) is immediate, gift and donation of the "same sensibility of ideas" (L. Pareyson)... when, between old and new, congeniality makes the work an unrepeatable model, even if it's imitated. "Unstable," completeness in lively harmonies among mimetic metamorphosis. Voyant, voleur de feu, Rimbaud depicts the poet, because, « il épuise en lui tous les poisons, pour n'en garder que les quintessences »; the poet in dérèglement de tous les sens, marks new prints in the ancient world, guaranteeing a continuity between the beginning and the end, as his work becomes, as Pareyson claims, the evidence of a genre and a form cut off from a mere evolution of the language, as to the use of linguistic techniques oriented to "a way of thinking or considering a particular genre or form, transposing it into the works." But that is a theoretic revision of the poet's spiritual intuition, since poetry is spontaneity, and "Emotional, psychological or sentimental survey about literary paradigms, which are mythical and anthropological" (A. Serpieri). So, the issue is more complex. Benjamin himself, in his consideration on the translator's task, wonders if what is beyond communication may be considered an elusive or mysterious poetry.
We're again at the first question: what's poetic in poetry? Considering the assumption that "language [may be] also the symbol of the incommunicable," analyzing or simply reading a poem means dwelling upon forms, topics, different languages, "as fragments of the same vase. And fragments of a more solemn language" (W. Benjamin). For example, what we define as primary and originary multilinguism in Dante (his Commedia is, in fact, the greatest example of contamination) and "babelic filter" (T. Lisa) in T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam uti chelidon - O swallow swallow
Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie
(T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land)
Est deus in nobis. And
They still offer sacrifice to that sea-gull
(E. Pound, The Pisan Cantos)
In fact the multilingual poetry, after a hard journey during the medieval period, was transformed in the Renaissance age in Macaronic poetry and finally covered with new meanings, in the XXth century, with James Joyce, besides the mentioned Eliot and Pound (isn't Finnegans Wake by Joyce a form of poetry?).
Nowadays there are a lot of experimentations in Europe, such as Antoine Cassar and Nicola Gardini.
Estambul es distancia, es ansia de otro ayer,
bugün dün, yarin dün, ve dün sonsuz bir keder
(A. Cassar, from Muzajk, 2009)
Labentis speciem lacus cometae
Iam repercutiens quievit ater
(N. Gardini, from Nind, 2002)
And this contamination becomes a device of Weltliteratur, really "babelic" and "omnivorous."
This seems to be the perspective of Guido Monte, a supporter himself of a cosmopolitan multilinguism. The writer, a good interpreter of Eliot and Pound using Jungian and Borgesian devices, sees in linguistic cosmopolitism the possibility "of understanding if the roots of population may have a common, archetypical origin." Where the different languages are blended, contamination finds a new time-space replacement, creates a "where" that always recreates itself. Just like an "anticanone" aware of the inexistence of a pure language but able to create the inter-subjectivity among worlds and to amplify the complexity of the poetic message. In fact, linguistic contamination in Monte is not aimless but it promotes a "Universal Library" and cosmic images -- whose main law guarantees the expression of everything in every language (J. L. Borges). So out of context verses of "new cores of ideas," they're quite transformed in Japanese haiku.
Gisin zacem ti mne dana?
[Why must I live?
as when I was conscious
of a coming bloom spring]
(G. Monte, Haiku - cf. Puskin, Alceus -- on Swans Commentary, 2007)
The author alternates different forms of linguistic blending: it's possible to identify an easier linguistic contamination in his verses, or more complex poems where everything "becomes impersonal and the text speaks for itself," as if he would assert such an archetypical conception of belonging to All or Nothing.
Like a smile upon an infant's face
Sunt geminae Somni portae
(G. Monte, from Origines -- cf. Blake, Virgilio -- on Segue online literary journal, Miami University, 2005)
Depersonalization in the text reduces the distances among the writers, underlining the harmony of the mixture, made by "a single hand" because "the linguistic blending operation marks a conceptual integration operation, via which a rich complex event representation is integrated into a compact event schema" (N. Mandelblit, G. Fauconnier).
His poetic blending is greatly completed by thematic and metathematic elements, according to a process of extrapolation and integrating frames. It's worth noticing Alison Phipps's assertion (University of Glasgow) about Monte's experimentation: "It is good to think with others about how languages find their way into the cracks and crevices of our lives -- how they create a gossamer of relatedness which always has an unpredictable feel and future."
A certain cosmic philosophy pervades his works through mythical and archetypical figures, which are crucial in universal categories linked to the space-temporal dimension, to the cyclicity, to the becoming (for example in his Origines in Segue, 2006). Représentations collectives, "symbolic figures of the primitive sights of the world" (C. G. Jung).
All mentioned before explains his continuous research and his interest for the biblical book Genesis and for Virgilio and Dante's verses.
and the land was left barren
et les ombres noires
enveloppaient les profondeurs
et aura divina
super oceani undas
(G. Monte, Genesis, on Words Without Borders, 2004)
The universality of Monte's thought appreciates the Campbellian myth. Within the "creative mythology," the subject, waiting for what is repetitive, doesn't submit itself to the myth (in Benjamin's opinion it closes the nature in untemporal relationships, limiting freedom); on the contrary, as even Monte claims, the subject appropriates personal experiences transmitting them later through signs. It's worth pointing out that, according to Jungian point of view, "the natural, mythical phenomena are symbolic expressions of the soul drama" (The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious). Once again the linguistic contamination links the sociological consciousness, which accuses violence, in justice and human misery, symptoms of the "symbolic desert," contemporary of a Universal intelligence awaiting le temps d'un language universal (Rimbaud).
tu ne peux pas aller plus loin d'un jour
no puedes ir más del tiempo de un día
tu, la pensée d'un rêve, el pensamiento de un sueno
(G. Monte, written on my sanbenito -- Swans Commentary, 2007)
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About the Author
Francesca Saieva was born in 1972. She teaches philosophy and pedagogy, and was an adjunct professor at the University of Palermo. Her Ph.D. work was Il Viaggio - ricerca del sé e dell'altrove ("The Voyage - In search of the self and the somewhere else," Graduate School of Pedagogy, University of Palermo, 2004). She has published articles on Italian journals and on Swans Commentary. (back)