della Corte: Poems from The Journey Ends Here,
translated by Emanuel di Pasquale
| II | VI
Publications: P.O. Box 831, Stony Brook, NY 11790
della Corte is a native and current resident of Venice. For many
years, however, he worked for a major Milanese weekly newspaper
while publishing two dozen books of poetry, fiction, and essays.
He has won two Selezione Campiello for his work and, in l968,
was awarded the prestigious Veillon Internazionale, which had
previously been won by Emanuelli, Ginzburg, and Pratolini. Among
his many admirers were Federico Fellini and Andrea Zanzotto.
Kennedy wrote: "The arrival on these shores of Carlo
della Corte's professedly unfinished masterpiece is a literary
event of prime importance. An astonishing book, it gives us a
dreamlike tour of Venice, that city perpetually dying and yet
immortal, in the company of the shades of the poet's father and
mother. Like Ulysses of James Joyce, whom della Corte dismisses
as a madman, it tells of communion in a brothel of father and
long-lost son. Other ironies abound, also bitter humor and surprise.
I can't imagine a better trasnlator for this bookthan Emanuel
di Pasquale, sensitive and passionate, with is deft command of
both poetic diction and the American vernacular."
THE JOURNEY ENDS HERE:
by Emanuel di Pasquale
driving force of The Journey Ends Here is love, human love
in all its aspects,
love for a place (Venice), and ultimatelylove for all living things,
all their faults and glory: family, prostitutes, starving dogs,
whose love-making makes "and embarrasing joke" and a
cosmic marvel of "The
love that drives the sun and all the other stars." Journey
is also about the
love for literature. Love
for his parents causes della Corte to bring them back from the
one more night , for one more stroll around Venice, to reminisce,
past, and evaluate both past and present. In a real way, della
Corte, now in
his sixties, is trying to cleanse himself of angerover thepremature
death of his
father. The parents, too, wanting to ssee their child, break out
of their hell:
stowaways breaching the circle/of the concentration camp pens,"
far to be with him. Here, the book sparks an epiphany and becomes
it deals with deepest human love and deepest human insanity, man's
to man, the hell of human suffering, its epicenter the Second
Dante's Commedia, Journey is rich with characters. Like Dante,
has the genius to make them come to life in a few lines. Clelia
his wet-nurse/muse:"...small goddess/of the hearth, who'd
from caves,/ravines and hills...twinkling from gnomes and goblins/in
sunsets when windoes/are shaken by the winds."...Della Corte
that is living, with the exception of those who turn against life:"...with
dog hung on a mulberry tree/by the barbaric bully who doesn't/want
to feed any
mouth other than his own..." Otherwise, his compassion for
the family of the
living extends even to the god he rages against for having killed
and for allowing so much misery:"...perhaps even he subdued
by a chaotic History."...della
Corte writes prose when he deals with the living and great poetry
when he deals with dead, ...the world of the imaginatiion...Journey
a book about Venice...which is a metaphor for life itself, all
that water echoing
della Corte's The Journey Ends Here is like traveling
on a river: steady and calm (prose) wild
and cataclysmal (poetry). The writer, a new Virgil with no destination,
'solid' point, wanders about Venice finding hell, purgatory, and
realities of the senses, and in human feeling and intellect. His
his own compassion,his love for life, for wine, for art, for Venice,
for his own
father and mother, for a flawed god and for manking, god's flawed
progeny. (Sample poems follow here:)
from a portico (if the quoin
still the architectural custom),
quietly look at your aging son.
certificate in hand,
talk to you as if you were alive,
who died when a fissure,
pit, an abyss of years
us away from each other.
now I am you,
up and dried up,
you, with your eyes
the dead, pierce this fog.
nonagenarian, why could you not,
a bionic actor, rise,
hearing aid, titanium teeth,
your eyes your own: green and whole,
another chat on a Leopardian night
the balcony suspended over Passeggi.
ussedto say: "My boy grows sad
these stars. God help me if a poet is
in my house." Lord, no, all
useless, even the name-poet-
is fruitless, a pagan
to transfix unruly things.
any case, come, one lamp
lights the field, a flexible
against a mass of
eels and blues, like
in the dar: others lacking a soul
is not a puff of air or a flag
on a shattered pole.
we find ourselves at Rialto
share some laughter.
go and stay close now,
new and worn,
because we're worn, new
the fine mist that falls
the city of shining stones.
a murmur like a flow of blood:
still the same soul
some other. More like
other," I assert,
even I wavear at the shade
holds me. The luminescence
his eyes pierces people's
armor, and I am shamed for him,
him (absent for too many years),
knew the heft of his own absence.
they call such absence a steadying force,
unshakable. Not true.
barber?" he asks,distracted.
pull his hand and drag him
where a pizzamaker
fry his slop.
is recycled, but so is life,
the genome, the long chain dragged
year to year, century to century,
of galazies, among quasars, black holes,
rays that like obsidian blades slice the cosmos
reach your muscle bathed in blood, silly pump
goes on, goes on, small beetle,
Volkswagen that retreats to an old poster,
instrument the poet claims is out of tune
my tobacco-stained, moth-eaten guitar
a place where for thirty years
dead leaves' wind no longer blows.
by Emanuel di Pasquale. Copyright 2000, Gradiva Press. All rights
Publications: P.O. Box 831, Stony Brook, NY 11790