After All: Last Poems by William Matthews

By William Matthews

This can be the touchingly entitled choice of poems William Matthews had accomplished almost immediately prior to death, simply after his fifty-fifth birthday in November 1997. Is demise ever totally unforeseen? no longer, might be, by means of a collector of expertise, a gourmand of language, who can check with "death flickering in you're keen on a pilot light." In in the end, Matthews appears to be like taking a look his final on all issues beautiful: song, foodstuff and wine, love. within the beautiful crucial poem, "Dire Cure," which types one of those backbone to the ebook, he describes the impressive implications of the "heroic measures" that stored the existence and restored the wellbeing and fitness of his spouse from "a children's melanoma (doesn't that possessive holiday your heart?)." He conjures up the dying of his favourite jazz musician, Charles Mingus. He speaks of cats, canines, pigs, sheep, of the previous, of historical past, of joys proposed, yet in particular, together with his attribute comfortable wit, of language and its quiddities: "My love says i believe too rattling a lot and perhaps she's right." in the end is the ultimate from the most pensive and scrumptious of all our poets.

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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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