Monday, 3 March 2014

The Verse is Everything

Extract from p135 of the 2013 Penguin translation by Lara Gochin Raffaelli of Gabriele D'annunzio's 'Il Piacere'

The verse is everything. In the imitation of Nature, no instrument of art is more alive, agile, acute, varied, multiform, plastic, obedient, sensitive, faithful. More compact than marble, more malleable than clay, more subtle than fluid, more vibrating than a cord, more luminous than a gem, more fragrant than a flower, sharper than a sword, more flexible than a germinating shoot, more caressing than a murmur, more terrible than thunder, the verse is everything and is capable of everything. It can render the smallest motions of sentiment and the smallest motions of sensation; it can define the indefinable and say the unutterable; it can embrace the unlimited and penetrate the abyss; it can have dimensions of eternity; it can represent the superhuman, the supernatural, the awesome; it can inebriate like wine, ravish like ecstasy; it can possess at the same time our intellect, our spirit, our body; it can, ultimately, reach the Absolute. A perfect verse is absolute, immutable, immortal; it hols within it words with the coherence of a diamond; it encloses thought as in a precise circle that no force will ever manage to break; it becomes independent of any bond and any dominion; it belongs no longer to its creator, but to everyone and to no one, like space, like light, like immanent and perpetual things. A thought expressed exactly in a perfect verse is a thought that already existed preformed in the obscure depths of language. Extracted by the poet, it continues to exist in the consciousness of men. The greatest poet is therefore the one who knows how to uncover, extricate, extract a greater number of these ideal preformations. When the poet is near to the discovery of one such eternal verse, he is alerted by a divine torrent of joy that suddenly invades his entire being.