IN THE DARK BODY OF METAMORPHOSIS: And Other Poems by Mario Luzi

IN THE DARK BODY OF METAMORPHOSIS: And Other Poems

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mario Luzi is one of the most cultivated, interesting, and somewhat forbidding poets writing in Italy today. He belongs to the generation that began publishing in the '30's, highly influenced by the modernist example of Eugenio Montale and the ermetismo of the '20's, later shaken and reshaped by the pressure of the war years, what Luzi calls the ""recognition of reality."" He is principally concerned with the themes of corruption and purification, the play of the mind as it contemplates the landscape of nature, the disillusionment of the cities, and the figure of Man as it appears and disappears before him in his own life and throughout History. He is a meditative poet, metaphysical, cool and a little abstract, as somber as Montale but without the older poet's dramatic range, sharpness, and recklessness. His lyricism is strangely objective, his emotions often turning into a sort of philosophical statuary, emblems of cultural and spiritual unease or renewal, as in the long title poem of this collection. Salomon's translations are not particularly apt, rather fiat and literal, lacking a good deal of the humanity and suggestiveness, the restrained yet troubled voice that's in the original. Signs of Fate, Time, Woman, the Mother Church, of fire, smoke, dust, of the ""mutable and the eternal intimately mixed"" in the primordial source of Love -- these make up the speculative properties of Luzi's oeuvre. While it is good to have this selection, more or less representative, it is not good to have it when the Italian originals are absent. This was surely an editorial mistake. To present a foreign poet in a book devoted to him only in a language that's not his own is to send him half naked into the world.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1975
Publisher: Norton