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This report is taken from PN Review 80, Volume 17 Number 6, July - August 1991.

Letter from Rome Dilys Frascella
Though informed opinion holds that poetry news is no news in Italy, Eugenio Montale's posthumously published poems written to a woman friend have struck the public imagination.

His wishes have been carried out to the letter by Annalisa Cima. They met in 1969 and a close platonic friendship developed between the ageing poet and his young disciple. He was not 'amorous', she says firmly in an interview; he was lonely and spoke with tenderness of his late wife. Seen after they met he began dedicating poems to her and eventually stipulated that they should be published after his death, every year, six at a time.

Now a collection of thirty has been brought out by Mondadori with the title Diario Postumo, and the last group will appear in 1996.

Annalisa Cima says the arrangement was her old friend's playful pretense at staying alive, of holding some surprises in reserve for his readers. There are no real surprises, however: the poems are in his later style, aphoristic jottings about people and events, though with some of his old stoical pessimism about this world - 'immersed in rottenness' (immerso in un pattume ). They are written, as Montale puts it, 'in pyjamas', half way between poetry and prose. One of his poems explains his motives in a condensed form:


There has never been a void in which you
  can disappear,
other people thanks to memory have risen
  again;
leave ...


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