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Vincenzo Guarracino, a modern book of poetry in the poetic tradition

 

Vincenzo Guarracino

Fiori e altri incanti-Le stagioni di Leucò

Di Felice Edizioni, Teramo 2023

(A few notes)

Those who say that, in Italian poetry, we are in a post-lyric moment, may be proved wrong by Vincenzo Guarracino, author of this new “Fiori e altri incanti. The Seasons of Leucò”: 49 short poems, a precious little book. In the title, “Enchantments”, there is a promise that, as far as poetry can, is fulfilled, as long as one does not believe that the enchantment of lightness – that is what it is about – is an easy thing: in fact, “the word is precious.../it does not help that you are fearful or pugnacious/if to nothing your saying resembles” (p. 7). The words must mean something and even for that making poetry needs care and work, so that the appearance of beauty does not cover a useless species of emptiness – and lightness goes along with the evil of living, “Sometimes writing is without peace” (p. 35). In this case, “the verse has become a diviner”, the search has found, because you did not know, but “the water is right there where you were looking” (p. 9); “The words of the verses are threads/they stitch and sew up wounds” (p. 25) just as the female figure does in the lyric and courtly tradition, the figure who often comes to the rescue. The place of lightness and enchantment consists of a slender path, hovering on virtuous balances, nor do the verses immediately surrender their meaning; it is the character of true poetry, this, that on each page it is necessary beyond the possible immediacy at least a moment of reflection, and that this in turn may prove to be only a point of departure.

The verse, long or short, always worked in meter and rhythm, is governed with the extreme skill of the author, who is also a translator from the Greek and Latin classics; verse, therefore, cultured and measured, but in happy union with the wind of inspiration that brings the poet the word: this is a case (not many I know of!) in which imagination or fantasy do not allow themselves to be bridled by the necessities of form, albeit dictated by reference to the great ancient authors, necessities that could become external to meaning; but with that well they go.

A test of mastery, this one, and at the same time a book of refined lyric poetry.

The deity chosen to offer the imprint to the sylloge, is Leucó, mentioned several times: according to Greek mythology, Leucothea, the sea deity of the Odyssey who rescues Odysseus in the storm, helping him reach the land of the Phaeacians. The name means “white goddess”. Another precedent – in prose, but always enjoyable and unusually slight in singular diversity – lies in the celebrated “Dialogues with Leucò” (not in verse, then) by Cesare Pavese, another master, himself a great connoisseur of the classics, though also a neorealist author. Even so, it is always a matter of dream presence, nourished by imagery, in our lives: the matter of dreams, Guarracino reminds us with Calderón, is life itself. Therefore, we read, “In the dream now lies within his thoughts/...today he intends in that dream perhaps destiny” (p. 12) because it cannot be denied, except by an assumed party, that from dreams “he draws perhaps the most coveted/resource of infinity that is Tomorrow” (p. 13) and “dreamers” are often open to the new: “There are doors and windows in the house/of the unexpected hearts ready/to welcome and give, never/able to close themselves to life” (p. 22). Poetry may not stop wars, but it has a role in the happening of individual life: “It makes even the moon come down from the sky/...it points out to the senses the threshold of the possible” (p. 27) and the smile of “She” (the woman, again) must succor and “suffice/...to the high flight” (p. 28).

But what we call “concrete” merges and blurs with the constant presence of nothingness and mystery: “It takes every sky even a cloud/ to tell how much a dream is made of air” (cfr. pp. 20, 36)

                         They sailed clouds and mysteries

                         In dreams at the station on the path

                         Happy offered itself was the stairway

                         glimmer to a dream come true (p. 21).

The dream is mentioned repeatedly (cfr. pp. 18, 20, 21, 23... ); fragments of a love discourse are sounded out in this key such as e. g. “It is said «to die» but it is to live/the breath that someone calls love” (p. 15, cf. also p. 32), or “«How much?» «A lot». This/feeling to say it is the infinite... ” (... ); the presence of Catullus' Carme 7 in "Quam Lybissae... like stars" (p. 17) is mentioned and is strong.

The woman is repeatedly mentioned almost to the point of specifying her connotations, beginning with the epigraph: “To You who of grace and vigor make your first/sixty springs bloom/In an ageless gift” (p. 5); “She had a name of poetry/light...” (p. 11); “rose” is a name insistently present ... but so is “daisy”, and others as well, as if to divert attention at the moment when it is being guided, with expedient of Dantean memory.

Another important precedent may lie in the 11th ode (Book I) of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, where, however, the name of the beloved, who in that case, thousands of years later, seems to have been known and certain, was Leuconoe. Difference in meaning: from Guarracino’s “white goddess” to Horatian “white-minded” woman. But the relationship can be seen in this, that just as the ancient verses live because of the invitation to taste, literally, “the day” ( the “diem” which is usually translated as “the moment”), so Guarracino's verses, modulating the theme of the precariousness of existence, as we say today, exhort one to fully grasp the beauty of what is ephemeral, and of each day, month, season the uniqueness that does not repeat itself:

               Only the moment matters and not deluding oneself

               Is good on what it gives or promises

               Space tells me there is not to tomorrow

               Sun and clouds need only a breath to dissipate them (p. 24).

As in ancient times, so today the somewhat disenchanted wisdom guides us. This is why “the Seasons” come to be part of the subtitle, because each season has its own different beauty, which the rotating circle of the year spreads meaningfully throughout: “becoming flowers in spring” (pp. 41; 43) where the fields are waiting to open “as a sentence waiting for a verse” (p. 41) or already become colored (cf. pp. 43, 44); “June/smells already of summer...” (p. 16), “August of weariness of waiting/the time prepares us for a turning point” (p. 52) for autumn-winter and, in a circle, the year actually fades into a dream, “... celebrating was every street/the year with its secret/... the dream was lurking/perhaps it was illusion” (p. 8); with beautiful outcomes, and Leopardi-like echoes –

             How clear is the moon this evening

             How every star seeks its sleepless

             companion and sister on the horizon: the year

             How is all in this dream how mild (p. 23).

Details of everyday life, based on the “feeling of existing” (p. 47), brought to the dignity of poetry. A play of nothin”sun and its cloud” (p. 34) that calls into question a singular, unique rethinking of our literary tradition in the sign of beauty that shows itself, with its suspended miracle, over transience -

               They were in summer like a wind

               hours moments thoughts/...yes/

               Eternal until, perhaps (p. 53).

Letto 87 volte Ultima modifica il Giovedì, 23 Maggio 2024 17:25