The End of the Poem: Studies in Poetics (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics)
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The author presents "literature" as a set of formal or linguistic genres that discuss or develop theological issues at a certain distance from the discourse of theology. This distance begins to appear in Virgil and Ovid, but it becomes decisive in Dante and in his decision to write in the vernacular. His vernacular Italian reaches back through classical allusion to the Latin that was in his day the language of theology, but it does so with a difference. It is no accident that in the Commedia Virgil is Dante's guide.
The book opens with a discussion of just how Dante's poem is a "comedy," and it concludes with a discussion of the "ends of poetry" in a variety of senses: enjambment at the ends of lines, the concluding lines of poems, and the end of poetry as a mode of writing this sort of literature. Of course, to have poetry "end" does not mean that people stop writing it, but that literature passes into a period in which it is concerned with its own ending, with its own bounds and limits, historical and otherwise.
Though most of the essays make specific reference to various authors of the Italian literary tradition (including Dante, Polifilo, Pascoli, Delfini, and Caproni), they transcend the confines of Italian literature and engage several other literary and philosophical authors (Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Boethius, the Provençal poets, Mallarmé, and Hölderlin, among others).
therefore,to Arnaut's sirventes,the whole dispute surrounding Aynas corn is displacedfrom its obsceneliteral senseto a quesrionofpoetic technique and from a problem of anatomical suitablenessto a metrical matter. The "body of the woman = body of the poem" equation, which is not altogetherunexpectedbut is still not a given, will find a counterpart in the equarion of corn as bodily orifice and corn as point of ruprure of the strophe'smetrical srrucrure.The poemt body, said by Dante to be
Italian culture: its essentialpertinence to the comic sphereand consequentrefutation of tragedy. The fact that even a few years after rhe author's death the reasonsfor the comic title appearedproblematic and incoherent to the oldest commentatorsr bearswitness to the extenr to which this turn hides a historical knoc whose repressioncannor easily be brought to consciousness. All the more surprising is the poverry of modern critical literature on the subject.That a scholarsuch as Pio Ra;na (who so
one'steeth, "like us, but better than us." Pascoliand the Thought of the Voice 69 din of stoneand wood, areinarticulateand cannotbe written. otha.ndhoi, ersstill, suchasimitationsof irrationalanimals,like brehekehs inarticulate, are voices these written; yet be can and inarticulate are sincewe do not know what they mean, but they Ne engrammatot' sincetheycanbe written. VI Analogous observationscan be made for Pascoli'sonomatopoeias,for those "siccecd,""uid," "videvitt," "scilp,"
drasticallyidentif ing graceand nature in the 6gure of the resamissa,rendersobsoletethe categorialdistinctions on which'Western theology and ethics are founded-or rather, he complicatesthem and displacesthem into a region in which their senseradically changes.One could, that is, repeat for Caproni rhe boutadewith which'Walter Benjamin defined his own relation to theology when he compared it to that between an ink pad and ink: the ink pad is, to be sure,full of ink, Expropriated Manner but if it
constitute the experienceof poetry: memory and immediacy,the letter and the spirit, thought and presence.Poetry is alwaysdivided betweenan impossibiliry of thinking ("1 did not think, I did not think of you: I have never thought of you") and the compulsion to think ("I lost you then, Manuelita . ' . I remember,I went into the library"), between an incapaciryto remember in the perfect, amorous adhesion to the present and the memory that wells up preciselyin the impossibiliry of this love. This