PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Monthly Carcanet Books
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Helene Cixous We Defy Augury Carola Luther From ‘Letter to Rasool’ Sarah Rothenberg Ashberyana Jena Schmidt The Many-Faced Lola Ridge Helen Tookey Almost Drowning

This review is taken from PN Review 19, Volume 7 Number 5, May - June 1981.

RHETORIC OF ANOTHER KIND Umberto Saba, Thirty-One Poems translated from the Italian by Felix Stefanile (Carcanet) £2.95

From the covers of the two-volume Mondadori pocket edition of Umberto Saba's Selected Poetry and Prose gazes the poet's portrait by Vittorio Bolaffio; the painter himself figures inside, a friend to whom a poem is dedicated, and the subject of one of the prose 'Ricordi-Racconti'. This person on the cover is formally, perhaps quaintly, dressed and though middle-aged retains a childlike expression, a melancholy, part-smiling but fixed look directed openly out of the painting. Behind him is a very empty, very primary, sea, at the edge of which a tiny fisherman tends a boat, bright orange and rigged with white.

The writer of the books has a productive life of over fifty years, and entangled in it is his love for his native city, Trieste; the physical reality he creates of his wife and daughter; people around him, places he visits; two world wars; and the woman he was fostered by as a child, and whose name he took. It becomes, as he puts it, 'la storia . . . di una vita', and it is no wonder that all of it is collected in one book of poems, Il Canzoniere, The Complete Umberto Saba, as it were; or that he writes about his own life and work in the third person in 'Storia e Cronistoria del Canzoniere'. That all this seems to be an anachronism, a survival, or an imitation, somehow not 'modern', would scarcely be a criticism to the person in the portrait, who has ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image