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This poem is taken from PN Review 94, Volume 20 Number 2, November - December 1993.

Three Poems Andrengo Soffici

Ardengo Soffici was born in April 1879 and spent his adolescent years in Florence, painting and writing while working in a lawyer's office. In 1900 he went to Paris, where he came into contact with French avant-garde circles. Returning to Italy in 1907, he collaborated on the magazine Vocewith Giuseppe Prezzolini (an opponent of Futurism though not of modernism in general). In 1909 he wrote what must have been one of the first book-length studies of Arthur Rimbaud.

In 1911, Soffici's indignant response to the Futurists' first Milan exhibition prompted a Milanese contingent to visit Florence for a fist fight and a heated aesthetic argument, but by 1913 when he founded Lacerbawith Giovanni Papini, Soffici was himself contributing to the Futurist movement and publishing the work of Marinetti and others.

'Studio' and 'Currents' (like 'Rainbow' PN Review92) date from around.1915. 'Field Hospital' is possibly a little later and was not collected until 1938. By the time these poems were written, Soffici had broken with Marinetti's group. Two volumes of war memoirs appeared in 1918 and 1919. Soffici gradually became a neoclassicist and fascist; a believer in an artistic and political 'return to order: A folio of his art work published in 1946, however, shows that while his painting style had returned to a post-impressionist academicism he had not attempted to suppress earlier and more adventurous work. The last volume of his collected writings appeared in 1961. He died in Florence in 1964.

Field hospital 026
Blessed interlude: the hospital!
where a body, given leave
(and no sense of possibility)
sleeps a whole week

waking in parentheses:
four white walls
between yesterday's screaming batteries
and whatever remains to sprout tomorrow.

In this silent crucible my senses re-knit;
unscramble another life
where all things add up: mangled forests,
improbable sunlight on the blood of the dead,
...


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