Cover

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p. I

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. II-IV

Table of Contents

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pp. V-VI

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Translator's Note, Dedication

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pp. VII-X

In the following translation, I have respected Judith Balso’s style by re-translating poems and using citations sparingly. When footnotes do appear, it is to cite an existing translation that was used; in some cases, I have consulted existing translations but nevertheless altered them in accordance with the author’s French versions to remain as close as possible to her thought. For the cited poems of Alberto Caeiro, I have consulted...

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"I read poets, I learn from poets"

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pp. 9-10

I read poets, I learn from poets. The idea for this small book came to me at a time when I felt the possibility of a global (and by this I don’t mean “general”) declaration regarding the power of poetic work: regarding the immense reservoir that it constitutes and which has, as of yet, hardly been truly explored.
I do not share the diagnosis that there is a contemporary deterioration of poetry. The work of the poets...

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By way of a prologue

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pp. 11-18

Kleist, “Letter from one poet to another:”

“Language, rhythm, assonances, however seductive they may be, above all if they are a type of ornamental covering for the spirit, considered from this point of view, are no less (in and of themselves) an authentic disadvantage, even if it is necessary and fatal; and art can only bear the function to eliminate it as much as possible. I use the best of my abilities attempting to provide clarity..."

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I. Stevens: the illumination of seeming

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pp. 19-34

For Wallace Stevens, the possibility of poetry itself rests upon the existence of an “interdependence between imagination and reality as equals.” To put it another way: imagination and reality are the two edges of the capacity that Stevens attributes to the poem. And the poem is an archway going from one to the other: “Not only does imagination adhere to reality, but reality also adheres to imagination and their...

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II. Caeiro: a desire for a "metaphysics without metaphysics" within poems

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pp. 35-46

Before becoming a poet – which for Fernando Pessoa, meant suddenly becoming four distinct poets he would later decide to call heteronyms – Pessoa had diagnosed an impossibility and a crisis: the crisis of metaphysics and the end of any consistent phil- osophical apparatus. From this he concludes the impossibility of any elaborate great poetry – any poetry worthy of this name, for Pessoa, would seem to require...

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III. What does Mandelstam Discuss with Dante?

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pp. 47-56

Mandelstam describes the intellectual crisis in which he finds himself as such: on the one hand,

The dimness, the unstructured nature of nineteenth century European scientific thought, by the time of the turn of the present century, had completely demoralized scientific thought. Intellect, which does not consist of a mere aggregate of knowledge, but rather of “grasping,” technique, and method...

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IV. Pasolini: no longer History, but a "memorable consciousness of sun"

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pp. 57-66

Pasolini also encounters the immense figure of Dante when, in writing “The Ashes of Gramsci,” he decides to expose the poem to the crossroads of the politics and history of his time, and decides that his poetic language must then be capable of bearing “the rational, the logical, the historical.” In a historical-political sequence – 1950s Italy – which is completely controlled by the State and the political parties...

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V. The "Misty" Poets: thinking while propped up against the empty sites of History and language.

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pp. 67-74

The generation of the “Menglong” poets appeared in China in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. I owe my reading of these poets mostly to Italian-English translations of their poems thanks to my two Italian friends, Claudia Pozzana and Alessandro Russo (two sinologists and great connoisseurs of 20th century Chinese politics and history as well as prominent translators of contemporary...

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VI. Aygi: the poem of a world without particularities

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pp. 75-80

Aygi presented himself as one of the successors of the poets he called “rebel poets (or poets of resistance)”: examples include Mandelstam and Celan. With Mandelstam and Celan (and in another sense, Pasolini), it appears that poetry has reached its limits in relation to history. For his part, Aygi is convinced that poetry cannot begin to exist again if it doesn’t assume an innocence, and in order for this to happen, poetry...

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VII. Leopardi: the invention of the earth as the possible site of a collective without transcendence

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pp. 81-94

Leopardi: both widely neglected (in France) and the object of a fierce conflict bearing on the very content of his poetry itself. A conflict between those who would see him swallowed up by a pathetic Romanticism, which is quite foreign to him, and those who would grant him a materialism and lucidity worthy of Lucretius, while seeing him as a cynic and skeptic...

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By way of a conclusion

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pp. 95-96

Just a couple of words concerning the category of poetry as a “supreme fiction” formalized by Stevens:
In various ways, the search for a nomination for the “earth” traverses the poetic propositions that I have just outlined. Each one of these poets cries out “Earth!” in order to announce something about which we have yet to have...

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Afterward: questions of method

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pp. 97-102

Today, what it means to read a poem has, to a certain degree, become vague. For this reason, I will state here what I mean by “to read a poem.”
What had been conceived of in philosophy as the crisis or “end” of metaphysics has had a considerable effect on poetry. Deprived of an external speculative support, the poem has internalized its own vocation of thinking. It invented...

List of the referenced poets and their works (in order of appearance)

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pp. 103-106

Judith Balso: studies on poems and poets

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pp. 107-108