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This review is taken from PN Review 98, Volume 20 Number 6, July - August 1994.

DAYS AND WAYS ATTILIO BERTOLUCCI, Selected Poems, bilingual edition, translated by Charles Tomlinson (Bloodaxe) £8.95.
FEDERICO MAYOR, Patterns, translated by Rosemary Wiltshire (Forest) £6.95.
ELISAVETA BAGRYANA, Penelope of the Twentieth Century: selected poems, translated by Brenda Walker (Forest) £8.95.
ELENA SHVARTS, Paradise: selected poems, bilingual edition, translated by Michael Molnar and Catriona Kelly (Bloodaxe) £8.95.

Even if the films of Bernardo Bertolucci continue to claim more of the limelight, there is at least now no good reason to remain ignorant of the poems of Atillio Bertolucci, his father. Anyone reminded of 1900 or The Spider's Stratagem by the cover of these Selected Poems - a nineteenth-century canvas looking towards Parma - encounters beyond it a not dissimilar vision, yet a distinctive one in which, as in the painting, autumnal colours predominate and the countryside, not the city, occupies the foreground. This Bertolucci comes to us in the care of his close friend Charles Tomlinson, and doubtless the reputation of the one can only serve to increase the reputation of the other, irrespective of whether he is, as claimed, 'Italy's greatest living poet'. Bertolucci is certainly a most impressive poet, and from the outset this selection proves a spur to thought and a tonic for the spirit. Tomlinson compares him to Edward Thomas (whom Bertolucci has translated into Italian) and asks 'what poet ever addressed so many poems to his wife and children?' This doubleness of aspect seems perfectly judged: Bertolucci is by temperament intimate and domestic, yet always on the move, respondent to a need never explicitly specified, with a suggestion of distress at the core of the enigma. Though he dwells in the city (Rome), Bertolucci in his poems inhabits the countryside of his childhood and youth, around Parma, and in the Appenines at Casarola in the stone house of his seventeenth century ...


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