A collection of poems by Robert Dodsley

By Robert Dodsley

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It is more humanistic and literary than purely political, and it unites his prior experience of Friuli with the picture he will later paint of the ancient peasant world in such films as The Decameron, The Arabian Nights, and Medea. With their unusual blend of collective vision and private reflection, traditional form and radical critique, hopeful idealism and disenchanted realism, the poems of Le ceneri di Gramsci thrust Pasolini’s poetry into the center of the public arena for what would prove to be a relatively short while.

At the same time there is also a rejection of modernist poetics in the very use, however unorthodox, of rhymed hendecasyllables. The problem of Pasolini’s conflict vis-­à-­vis the language will, however, remain unresolved in the poem itself and in his artistic practice in general. At poem’s end he says to the language, “you disdain / what I love in you, 34. The hendecasyllable is an eleven-­syllable line (though often varying to twelve, thirteen, and more syllables, or sometimes less) with fixed stresses on the fourth or sixth and tenth syllables and varying stresses on the others.

It is Pasolini’s first explicit attempt, outside of his essay writing and journalism—which by the time of this poem (1949) was already rather abundant in the fields of both culture and politics— to wed his nascent “civic” voice with an embrace of the language, in full awareness of the cultural and political conflicts still implicit in this choice: Your health, o Italy born with the sun, loves only the children who love you not, closed in their bodies of violets that won’t let us glimpse if their Language is only a dream .

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