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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS " Autumn. We felt its coming in the wind of August,in the rains of September, torren- tial and weeping, And a shiver ran through the earth, which now, bare and sad,welcomes a bewildered sun. Now passes and declines, in this Autumn pro- gressing with unspeakable slow- ness,the best time of our life and lengthily bids us farewell." This is Autunno, "Autumn," by Vincenzo Cardarelli. Published in 1931, the poem apparently does n't give any space to the expression of perso- nal emotions focusing, on the other hand, on the description of autumnal weather and the arrival of the cold season. Such symbo- lism, however, becomes embo- diment of the trans ience of youth: just as the Fall slowly progresses towards the Winter, so the poet's life reaches matu- rity, inexorably getting closer to death. The poem's beauty lies in the juxtaposition of two sequences, distinct yet tied to each other in their essence. In the first, the autumnal landscape is personi- fied: the rains are "weeping," the earth "shivers," the sun is "bewildered." In the second, the coming of the cold season beco- mes metaphor of the coming of maturity and the passing of life. Cardarelli -poet, writer and journalist from Lazio, represen- tative of the Italian early Novecento - adopts the theme of time passing and of maturity tur- ning into old age quite often. Indeed, it is a classic topos, typi- cal of the early 20 th century's literary avant-gardes , w hich often focus on s ubjects like uprootedness, travel, adolescence and loss of identity. While attempting to put into words the sense of instability caused by the growing uncer- tainty of their social role, writers - intellectuals - appear to supply interpretation for a mass pheno- menon that marked those years indelibly: the migration of mil- lions of Italians to the N ew World, seeking better fortune. In the midst of it, that uncon- trollable swirling of events, of s oul-tearing pain and s ocial destruction brought by the First devastating World War. All of this is felt in Ungaretti's herme- tic poem Soldati, "Soldiers," composed in 1918 towards the end of the war, while the poet had been fighting in the trenches: "We are as in Autumn, on bran- ches the leaves." The precariousness of sol- diers' lives mirrors that of leaves during the Fall: a child's breath could suffice to send them to the ground, just as the life of a sol- dier can be suddenly and cruelly torn. However, the use of imper- sonal forms give a sense of fata- lity to the poem that makes it universal: if, at the beginning, it is the soldiers who are compared to leaves, the image ends up representing the incertitude of every Man's existence. We all are like leaves on autumnal bran- ches, with only one certainty, that of our own end. The Fall, inching closer and closer to the peninsula, is a use- ful theme to get to know the poe- try of the early Italian 20 th cen- tury, a moment when even lan- guage marked a definitive sepa- ration from the tradition and the poetic formality of the previous century. The poet, no longer a guide nor a prophet of truth, lived in a profound sense of extraneousness from society and from the w orld. N o longer moved by the historical and poli- tical ideals that had inspired intellectuals and artists of the 19 th century, he witnessed a modern capitalist society, fully focused on profit, beating to the ground the values that, for centu- ries , had been ins piration to human action and art. From the crepusculars to the futuris ts and the hermetics , Italian poetry of those years tells us of an inner change. The cre- pusculars embraced an attitude of renouncement, withdrawing from society, finding refuge in the past, dreaming of a return to childhood. The futurists reacted to the fall of ideals w ith an unconditional faith in the future and celebrating the world of science and technology. They became the first supporters of s trength, vitality and dynamism. The Hermetics were the most revolutionary of these poetic experiences , becaus e in the period between the two world wars, the years of the rise to power of Fascism, Italy fell vic- tim to a sense of crisis and of moral solitude probably never experienced before. Hermetic poets used words with paucity, but filling them with symbolism. At the very center of their narra- tion is Man, no longer supported by his faith in traditional values and left without certainties in life. The only constant of life is its precariousness and the inner turmoil it generates. Let us jump forward of a few decades and land in 1981, the year U2 released October. Here, too, the Fall becomes hermetic poetry: "And the trees are strip- ped bare of all they wear, what do I care... October and king- doms rise and kingdoms fall, but you go on and on." What do U2 have to do with Italian Literature? M aybe nothing, but it's interesting to realize how at the very begin- ning of the most carefree decade of contemporary history, someo- ne was reflecting on the caducity of time and life. M aybe it's becaus e Bono and his band mates, all from Ireland, knew first hand what it meant to be, at once, a people of migrants and a people of prisoners of the father- land. Just like the Italians. F ro m Cardarelli and U ngaretti to U 2, poems and songs can turn into keys to inter- pret past epochs, instruments to understand the mood of societies distant from us, and not only in time. Even if the years and events they may have initially referred to are long gone, they still deliver, indeed, the mood of a time that built a piece of Italian - and not only- history and culture. The Fall in Italian poetry: how to feel the mood of an era BARBARA MINAFRA

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