As the dedication of the piece states: The poem was composed in I have yet to find any evidence if Lamantia responded with his own poem to Villa, or if the two had planned any collaborations. Further along, he asks Villa if they would like to meet while he is visiting Rome and discuss a possible collaboration.
Intrigued by the letter, I contacted Bernstein who told me the meeting never happened. The game results in a drastic alteration of what was originally spoken. At its origins the Bible was an inorganic collection of myths created by a loose network of nomadic tribes who spoke different Semitic dialects roughly between the 12th and 8th centuries BCE. Over time these myths were written down, collected, and transformed into a historical document of the Hebrew people, united under one nation, religion, and language. When finished in the first century CE, this version, known as the Septuagint for the some seventy scholars who participated in the project, was adopted by Christianity and rejected by Orthodox Judaism.
In his translation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible also known as the Pentateuch or Torah into Italian, Emilio Villa eludes all the various redactions, the various theological deformations, the allegorical readings, and especially the notion of revelation that have come to shape its millennial game of telephone and returns to the source that originally set it in motion; specifically, to those primordial myths in order to reactivate the creative force that has long lied dormant in the recesses of time and to cause an irruption of entirely new meaning in the present.
He does this by looking at the Bible as a literary text and not as doctrine of faith, and therefore is concerned solely with its language. In fact, in the first line of the introduction to his translation of Genesis we read: And only by judging every Christian theologumen an artificial and superfluous option, a perishing mythologism, is a conscious responsibility to the text made possible. The signifying potential of this early literature was slowly diluted as interpretations of it became codified under various doctrinal systems. Although remnants of this E. For Villa, the responsibility inherent to translating the Book is to cause these myths to resurface so its language can once again foster a myriad of interpretations.
The myth resists univocal interpretation for its language maintains a tension that causes its meaning to constantly flux. It also lies outside history, in a primordial time of which we have little knowledge, and therefore presents itself as a mystery: Se lo facesse, lo tradirebbe.
The myth is the tumultuous concentration where an infinite feeling finds its home. Its period is a point, its unreal frequency, fiction. This may be a simple explanation of the origins, an evocation of chaos and its temporal organization; or it could be a naturistic myth that contemplates the victory of the sun Marduk over the rigors and the death of winter Tiamat , the clashing between the two forces of nature; or a symbolizing in astral myths; or all of this at once. And it does not matter. The myth cannot have equivalents, analogies, speakable relations. And the translator cannot do anything but render the precise feeling of his own ineptitude.
He cannot help his readers in any way. If he did it, he would betray them. In this sense, the myth holds the same force as an enigma that is impossible to unravel. All the reader can do is continue to empty its meaning without ever exhausting it, for the Enuma Elis still preserves all the linguistic power and all the expressive possibilities it had the first day, despite the fact that millennia have passed since its conception. Villa saw the same paradigm of the Enuma Elis in the early myths that led to the formation of the Bible.
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Actually, when it comes to his translation of Genesis, he found that the raw signifying force that allows for multiple interpretations was in an even more concentrated form: Nei testi delle leggende patriarcali, o ancestrali, nessuna teofania esce da una stretta condizione di etiologia cultuale; nei testi cosmogonici nessun referto supera la concezione mitica del Verbum Naturans, del Verbum operante.
In the texts of the patriarchal, or ancestral, legends, every theophany is tied to a strict condition of cultual etiology; in the cosmogonic text no report exceeds the mythical concept of the Verbum naturans, of the Verbum operante. Thus, in these lines, Villa begins to overturn the Christian idea of revelation by re-establishing the paradigm of the early myths.
The Christian idea, on the other hand, suggests a god that Ibidem. The Christian mass still upholds this notion with the liturgical refrain: In fact, that cosmogony is the product of the Hebrew culture united under Moses, whose followers later added it to reflect a monotheistic belief system. However, as Villa tells us, during the period in which the early Semitic tribes were slowly consolidated to form the Hebrew culture the perspectives regarding cosmogony were rather conflicting and fragmented: From this fragmented mythical literature, Villa draws one particular example that paints a rather different picture of the relationship between the divine and man, as well as the role of the verbum naturans, when compared to the later redactions of the Hebrew and Christian doctrines.
Man, previously a demigod in the form of divine breath, comes into being when he refuses the Word of the divine. Here, man creates himself through a linguistic rebellion. He is simultaneously exerting his independence from those gods and taking control of his own divine power: This raw linguistic power is maintained not only within the paradigms of the individual myths themselves, but also amid the clashing perspectives of these myths: In fact, further along in his introduction, Villa describes the different schools of ancient Biblical scholars and how each reassembled the text.
His position closely resembles that of the Elohist: Instead, the school in direct opposition to the Elohist, the Jahwista, followed a more traditional and strictly doctrinal approach. Villa not only sought out the same literary patrimony that imbued the Hebrew Bible with greater interpretative possibilities, but was also a well-trained philologist in the same languages as the Elohist. In the seminary, and later at the Isituto Biblico in Rome, Villa was trained not only in Hebrew and Aramaic, but also in early Semitic languages and dialects, such as Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, and even ancient Egyptian glyphs.
We could call Villa a modern Elohista. While most contemporary renderings of the Pentateuch stop at the Hebrew, both in their translation and notes, Villa goes further back to excavate the meaning of words under the pre-Judaic cultures. As a philologist of ancient languages, Villa merged etymology with his sensibility as a poet in search for the verbum naturans, the word that holds the raw signifying force to create the universe: In order to better explain how Villa reactivates this linguistic force through the etymology of individual morphemes, we may return to our analogy of the game of telephone.
Much like the biblical text, the meaning behind words has been altered greatly as it has passed through different languages, cultures, and time periods. Also, similar to how the early stories of those nomadic tribes passed from myth into history, language made the transition from its mysterious origins as a collection of sounds into codified signification. With the science of history, the meaning of a word can be revealed according to its usage at the time in which a literary text was authored.
However, the deeper Villa goes in his etymological excavation of the biblical languages, the more the meaning of words become uncertain: When the serpent is introduced in the passage, we quickly turn to read the second note to find that the term for serpent, nhs, can mean any number of things: Villa states that the serpent did not come to embody Satan until late Judaism, although a negative connotation was implied in Hebrew: As we move to read the body of the passage, we immediately notice that the language is in a crude, almost raw form; anything that is not supposed to be there, that could possibly embellish the text, is left out.
In fact, the language is so simple that the passage is presented as if it were a fable for children. Before even eating the fruit the transformation begins, one that is brought about by a verbal exchange between the serpent and Eve.
Furthermore, Villa maintains the distinction between many gods Elohim and one god Yahweh. In other words, man will become a god like all the rest, which not only suggests that man will become part of a divine pantheon, possessing similar faculties of knowledge and creation, but also that the one god overseeing the garden or Oasis as Villa calls it is not as infallible as he may seem.
And this is yet another example of how Villa emphasizes the influence of other pantheistic myths in the actual text. While most translators call attention to the discrepancy between Elohim and Yahweh in their notes, they often fail to acknowledge its implications. As we mentioned, Villa remains faithful to the irreconcilable interpretations behind a passage or even a single word.
For example, in note 3, he states: However, if we read the final paragraph of the previous note, it is possible that things went another way: In this same note the translator cites an older myth whose paradigm resembles that found in this biblical passage: Elementi e mitemi tipici di questo racconto sono anche conservati, o forse perfino in parte tratti, da un comune patrimonio mitologico, che ha una redazione precipua, forse germinale, in un racconto della mitologia egiziana: She succeeded through a stratagem, which, reinterpreted backwards, is analogous to the biblical version.
Hebrew culture reversed this idea: The essence of God is the ability to create and once his name is revealed man also appropriates that same capacity. Hence we are now in the position to speak the previously unspeakable. Cucirono subito insieme delle foglie di fico. Through his etymological study of the passage, he is able to refute an idea that has been portrayed symbolically in countless depictions regarding Adam and Eve: Il rettile mi ha convinto. As the narration suddenly shifts from prose to poetry, Villa points out certain syntactical complications that allow this line to be read in two different ways: It could literally be read as: Rather than filling in the gaps, he simply highlights them and leaves his reader with options in reconstructing the syntax and subsequently drawing interpretation from it.
In these texts, the reader may select a path to follow and, as a result, may influence the outcome of the narrative according to the series of choices they make. No one would ever think such a thing could also be carried out within the Bible, but Villa, through his philological rigor, demonstrates how its language also engages in such ludic games.
Like the lacunae, Villa respects the enigma, for as we mentioned earlier, it allows signification to continue. As we read in note 6: However, the reasons behind such a shift are unclear. Thus we are at a loss. A reliable interpretation of the passage cannot be made until new documents surface from the Ancient East, allowing us to clarify it through textual comparisons. Therefore, the translator must rely on its phonetic affinity to other terms in order to venture a meaning. Villa, however, tells us that these are merely approximations and that many translators render this passage haphazardly.
Whether or not the meanings between the Hebrew swp and the Akkadian sapu are similar cannot be confirmed until other texts are unearthed. Rather than furnishing a note, Villa calls our attention to the enigma by inserting a question mark in the line itself. In the Anchor Bible, the lines are unmistakably directed at the serpent and unfold without even the slightest hint at any discrepancy in the subject: With his etymological study of one word, the name Eve, in note 8, Villa manages to undermine millennia of interpretations, allowing the reader to see this episode in an entirely new light.
Most importantly, we now better understand why Villa titled his translation as he did. In transgressing the word of god, man separates himself from animal, creates his own language, and through that language, he shapes the world. In composing his own verse, Villa carries out the same search for the verbum naturans as he did in translating the Hebrew Bible. In other words, his poetry aims to create the same signifying power of a linguistic genesis, setting in motion a number of interpretative possibilities.
That being the case, we will focus on how Villa constructs meaning and not the meaning itself. The poet references the Bible throughout his oeuvre, however, there are instances in which his poems act as its palimpsest, either elaborating on certain passages of the Bible or rewriting them completely. For example, in the collection Oramai, the poem Semper pauperes expands on a line taken from the Gospel of St. Matthew and Natus de muliere is a play on Job Villa, instead, removes himself from his poetry to mirror how the authors were absent from ancient texts, leaving readers to decipher his poetic enigmas for themselves.
If the poetry of X was music, So that it came to him of its own, Without understanding, out of the wall Or in the ceiling, in sounds not chosen, Or chosen quickly, in a freedom That was their element, we should not know That X is an obstruction, a man Too exactly himself, and that there are words E. His poems often start out of nowhere and the reader is thrown in medias res, in the middle of a conversation that was started elsewhere, quite possibly in a different language.
See, for example, the beginning of Comizio Until the first part is found, the reader will always be haunted by what is missing. For another example, we turn to Pezzo , which opens with a hypothetical introductory clause that is not followed by a consecutive chain, but rather a series of conditions: Consequently, the entire poem changes in meaning depending on how the reader decides to reconstruct the syntax. At times, certain poems can create a temporal confusion at their opening, as in E ma dopo: And we find a similar phenomenon in Astronomia. If in the previous examples the various possibilities were implicit, here Villa marks them with much more clarity: The verse good it is to believe gives rise to three different options: Furthermore, with the use of the prolepsis that places the verb defoliate at the end of the verse, it is difficult to understand if one of these three things defoliates, or if it is something that is named in the following stanza.
Prior to departing for war, soldiers would ask her if they would make it back alive. Villa also acts like the sibyl by tearing his work to shreds and casting it to the wind. The original order of the stanzas is unknown for these folios were left jumbled in a box. Therefore, they can be shuffled together in a number of different ways, causing the signification to change with every new mixing. In some cases, Villa causes a big-bang to happen across the space of the page, where words and sounds float aimlessly as if they were awaiting structure.
Villa also emphasizes fragmentation by inserting blank spaces on the page, which he positions at strategic points within the text, as if they were linguistic traps. Often, sentences, periods, and entire discourses disappear within these gaps, rendering interpretation even more uncertain, which is reminiscent of translating an ancient manuscript riddled with lacunae. For example, in Linguistica the discourse is continuously interrupted, before it ever reaches a logical conclusion, by periods and then blank spaces.
Nor does one know if. If they were origins and not even. And not even a reason why origins are born Nor any longer faith, idol of Amorgos!
It is as if these verses gravitated dangerously around the gaps on the page, vanished within them, and then reemerged to start over anew on the other side of them. If here the spaces and periods serve to momentarily interrupt the discourse and send it in different directions, at other times these small abysses devour it completely, as in 17 variazioni: Many of the examples we will cite may also be found in the footnotes at the end of the translations included later in this volume. Here we are simply categorizing these examples in order to show how the poet employs similar techniques throughout his oeuvre, no matter the collection or the language he adopts.
Furthermore, since the different linguistic devices Villa utilizes tend to resist rigid categories, we should note that ours are in no way set in stone; certain examples may pertain to more than one category. Villa often corrupts words by modifying their spellings ever so slightly. For example, while the Greek epsilon does not remain in Italian, it does in other foreign tongues like English.
In other words, he shows how the formation of a word could have gone another way, either phonetically or graphically. The reader may also find that a similar game is taking place in reverse, as the poet uses modern languages to rewrite Greek and Latin terms, treating them as if they were still spoken today. On occasion, he breaks up words throughout a poem in order to bring out their etymological affinities. Furthermore, gemi- rhymes with semi, suggesting that a word part functions as a seed that eventually grows and branches into other words like gemi- into gemiti and geminate.
We find that throughout his oeuvre this breaking of words to form new combinations and associations becomes increasingly more drastic. While here the poem moves from a more linear verse into this splintering, further along in his career, Villa creates entire poems based solely on the parsing of words: Similar voces may be found in any of the languages the poet employs in his verse.
See for example, his Portuguese and French in Heurarium or his Latin in 17 variazioni and Verboracula. Although these voces are somewhat reminiscent of the language they are couched in, Villa created his own mysterious terms when renaming his poems later in life. The new titles include, among others: These are enigmatic words that seem to come from some long lost language and are completely indecipherable.
See, for example, the piece aptly entitled Genesis: This entire galaxy of words precariously rests on a random agglutination of sounds that seem to derive from some mythical age. At times, the poet constructs nominal strings in which words of different meanings are grouped together for purely phonetic reasons. Consequently, the barriers separating these different significations are weakened under the pressure of the signifiers.
For example, see how the poem Luogo e impulso is composed completely of nouns that are joined phonetically by a sequence of alternating rhymes: The poet also has a tendency to assign words a function they previously did not possess, by either transforming nouns into verbs, verbs into nouns, and nouns into adjectives. In his work the poet also creates a number of neologisms, which we could also refer to as neo-formations or amalgamations, by combining different words to form a linguistic synergy.
At times, Villa separates words to show how they are already a synergy of different meanings. Typos are very likely to have occurred and, in fact, the poet probably welcomed them. For example, in the English poem the cuban gong, Villa takes advantage of the rhyme in order to create new terms: A similar operation takes place as the poet first separates morphemes and then further breaks them down for their phonetic value.
For an example, we turn to the last line of the prose-poem Sub Bregme: To conclude our discussion on the various ways in which Villa brings about a linguistic genesis which is merely a introductory taste to the many techniques he employs , I would like to briefly touch on the litany. With this technique, the poet utilizes repetition throughout a poem in order to simultaneously accumulate and empty the meaning of either a single word or an entire phrase. His adoption of the litany as a poetic technique was most likely born out of his experience in the seminary. Within church services or processions the litany is a series of petitions: For example, as the priest list a number of prayers such as, for the healing of the sick , the people reply with a kyrie eleison: Yet the one true meaning is always allusive, E.
In other words, the litany is the obsessive chase after a meaning that cannot be found and the accumulation of a number of different meanings throughout that chase. In acting as the refrain within a poem, the word, or phrase, is the point in which the poem simultaneously empties the meaning it has acquired and begins to create new meaning through whatever follows.
The result is that Villa pushes a term to become everything and nothing. We have four prime examples in which the poet relies on the litany: However, the refrain returns once again and is not followed by a period. Ending as such, the author leaves the poem open in order for its discourse to continue on another time.
Villa writes it in a number of different ways: It is as if Villa were trying to capture the essence of his contemporary poet and playwright by constantly repeating and slightly altering his name. We have also shown how the poet uses that same creative force in his own verse in order to allow for the proliferation of meaning to continue without ever stagnating in univocality.
Noi e la preistoria and Lucio Fontana. Here the critic, instead, refrains from advancing any interpretation at all, and even further compounds the mystery of the work by writing a poem about it in the original sense of around it. Thus, Villa creates a paradox that is simultaneously altruistic and self-serving: The first that we moderns prefer to indulge in the deceptive tranquility that art has evolved considerably since our primitive origins.
Yet, if we consider an example like the caves at Chauvet in Southern France, we find that the charcoal drawings depicting herds of animals not only display a rather skilled hand, but also that the use of space is strikingly modern: From here Villa begins to venture into the enigma surrounding what prompted such a displacement: Was the object part of a magical-religious ceremony of worship?
Or was the vertebra magic in and of itself: Perhaps it served as an example of something primordial man sought to build, a chain or weave? The fact that answers to such questions can never truly be verified and belong to a past of which we know very little, leads the critic to approach the matter in a different way: To assign it an aesthetic means to figure out what it intends to say. And in doing so, the observer pushes the object toward a specific interpretation. This, consequently, renders the object impotent, for the many ways of perceiving it are suffocated by one alone.
Yet since the mythical circumstances surrounding the whalebone prohibit us from advancing any certainties, it maintains its mystery and thus its almost endless power of evocation. Rather than in what the object says, Villa was interested in what it actually does: And we can view this gesture as inflicting a tear upon the world, one that comes in many forms: The tear is the first step in the creation of all art: This allows us to transgress our typical perceptions: Therefore horizons are opened only at the cost of opening wounds.
University of Chicago Press Villa, poeta e scrittore, etc. The artist inflicts a wound on the canvas, exposing what is hidden behind it. Villa follows one of the opinions expressed in the Manifesto tecnico dei pittori futuristi: To do so, he must salvage the work from its historical setting and surround it in the same enigmatic, mythical circumstances as those in which primordial man operated. Russolo, Manifesto tecnico dei pittori futuristi, Available online at www.
Used over a hundred times in different forms, the one phoneme TROU constitutes the entire essay, which points to the litany and its obsessive repetition of a term. We find series of nonsensical rhymes, such as, boutrou foutrou toutrou troutrou or strings of portmanteau words, such as tatrouage, troudre, troumatique, or trul a combination of trou and nul. Looking at the syntax, we find the insertion of blank spaces not only between different words, but also dividing single words themselves. In conclusion, this niche dans une niche allows us to pivot and turn our attention to the other side of the paradox we mentioned earlier: Yet we still need to answer the second question we posed earlier: Similar to how abstract art recovers the initial act of altering the materiality of the world, Villa plays on the earliest etymologies associated with writing verse.
In fact, if we look in the dictionary we find that the two acts are surprisingly similar. In writing verse the poet furrows the page, modifies its landscape, aerates language, and plants the seed for new possibilities. Se questa svagata Cenere di cose Agiti ancora, Vergine fiato Il fuoco che accendesti eterno, E che rivive, Voci sincere e calde ti ritrova. If you disturb This distracted Ash of things once more, Virgin breath The eternal fire you lit, And that lives again, Will find you warm sincere voices again.
And these suddenly written Babbling children of other worlds Are eternal. Quando sono stanco di morire In questa buia stanza Prode mi dischiarano Remote e liscie. A few are still in use today. Vicino a le stelle con voi Sono fiorito e solo. Sbiadite come foglie astrali. Sono fiorito e solo. Sacerdote Del tempo eterno, che vegeta Tra ramo e ramo, Stella e stella, Onda e onda. Lake, mirror of springs, I too Grow in the dark: I call souls back from the hollow Of waves, which I gather next to my tangled Branches, nest of outstretched echoes, To parse time.
For me, the stars bejewel branches, Cover leaves in silences, Souls die here in hand. Faded like astral leaves. Priest Of eternal time, vegetating Between branch and branch, Star and star, Wave and wave. I hear Springs born From your icy womb, Resigned joys of a human exile. Bestie del campo, Bue, faccia di sogno, Pecora bella, Amici nostri, Viviamo. In Ungaretti, the coral is the red coral from Sardinia used for rosary beads.
He whom I call answers me and takes the place of my lover, He rises with me silently from the bed. Darkness, you are gentler than my lover, his flesh was sweaty and panting, I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me. My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all directions, I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you are journeying. Be careful darkness! I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are one, I hear the heart-beat, I follow, I fade away.
I descend my western course, my sinews are flaccid, Perfume and youth course through me and I am their wake. It is I too, the sleepless widow looking out on the winter midnight, I see the sparkles of starshine on the icy and pallid earth. A shroud I see and I am the shroud, I wrap a body and lie in the coffin, It is dark here under ground, it is not evil or pain here, it is blank here, for reasons. It seems to me that every thing in the light and air ought to be happy, Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave let him know he has enough.
I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming naked through the eddies of the sea, His brown hair lies close and even to his head, he strikes out with courageous arms, he urges himself with his legs, I see his white body, I see his undaunted eyes, I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him head-foremost on the rocks. What are you doing you ruffianly red-trickled waves?
Will you kill the courageous giant? I turn but do not extricate myself, Confused, a past-reading, another, but with darkness yet. The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind, the wreck-guns sound, The tempest lulls, the moon comes floundering through the drifts. I look where the ship helplessly heads end on, I hear the burst as she strikes, I hear the howls of dismay, they grow fainter and fainter.
I cannot aid with my wringing fingers, I can but rush to the surf and let it drench me and freeze upon me. Now what my mother told me one day as we sat at dinner together, Of when she was a nearly grown girl living home with her parents on the old homestead. I swear they are all beautiful, Every one that sleeps is beautiful, every thing in the dim light is beautiful, The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace.
Peace is always beautiful, The myth of heaven indicates peace and night. The soul is always beautiful, The universe is duly in order, every thing is in its place, What has arrived is in its place and what waits shall be in its place, The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood waits, The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long, and the child of the drunkard waits long, and the drunkard himself waits long, The sleepers that lived and died wait, the far advanced are to go on in their turns, and the far behind are to come on in their turns, The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall flow and unite—they unite now.
I too pass from the night, I stay a while away O night, but I return to you again and love you. Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you? I am not afraid, I have been well brought forward by you, I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her in whom I lay so long, I know not how I came of you and I know not where I go with you, but I know I came well and shall go well. I will stop only a time with the night, and rise betimes, I will duly pass the day O my mother, and duly return to you.
Materials for Teachers Materials for Teachers Home. Poems for Kids. Poems for Teens. Lesson Plans. Teach this Poem. Poetry Near You. Academy of American Poets. National Poetry Month. American Poets Magazine. Poems Find and share the perfect poems. The Sleepers. I am a dance—play up there! This poem is in the public domain. A Noiseless Patient Spider A noiseless patient spider, I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated, Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding, It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself, Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand, Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold, Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
Walt Whitman America Centre of equal daughters, equal sons, All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old, Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich, Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love, A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother, Chair'd in the adamant of Time.
To Think of Time 1 To think of time—of all that retrospection! To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward! Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue?