Poetry & Not . Notes on the Political and Social Significance of Poetry Inside Modern Cities
Authors: Davide Crimi
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This short essay will treat metric and free verse, with the awareness of the anachronistic
quality of these topics. Notwithstanding, this is the purpose of this short essay which
dares to start from the astral consideration of the meaning of poetry.
The first paragraph is dedicated to these perceptions, reverberating in the most
archaic compositions and consisting in the primeval task of poetry: to bring the light
of the stars, to drive the voice of the gods, to lead them to the comprehensibility of
the human ear. Here we have the original identity between poetry, magic and priestly
The bond with the divine undergoes to a first fracture when it begins the anthropological
evolution of the tribal communities: a ritual and institutional function is generated for
poetry which is soon absorbed by a clergy understood as a priestly caste. The second
paragraph highlights how the disagreement of some men of thought generates
another category: the prophets, often opposed to official power but also with blurred
and crossed boundary lines, both in the case of opposition and in that of contiguity,
melted through by elements of fascination, that are always combined in the magical
The third paragraph shows how the association with the magic component will be for
the reactionary forces a tool easy to use, when they wants to attack the parties opposed
to institutional power and to ban them, or even eliminate them. The most obscure
part of the Western Middle Age is imbued with these movements for compliance with
the order, with consequent purge of those components that the established power
considered to be foreign or hostile.
The progressive emergence of the Age of Enlightenment, of which the fourth paragraph
outlines some logical lines, will generate a return to the ideal of emancipation and
awareness as inner function of poetry. The disengagement from religious expectations becomes substantial, although laicization also involves sometimes a fatal trivialization
of content, with which modern poetry must struggle. The most authentically
progressive members want to see in poetry an instrument of social advancement, of
promoting awareness, of emancipation of the masses, crossing ferments that go from
the first Socialism2
between the lines of early Alchemy3
and Rosy+Cross4 Manifestos5
just up to the elaborations of the anarchist and communist movements, even if soon
everything was swallowed up by the arbitrary construction of infiltrations and lies.
The fifth paragraph tries to explain the courageous thesis that the two world wars of
the twentieth century were caused, albeit not as a sole cause, by the choice to contain
the workers’ movement by sending restless youth to the slaughter of the trenches.
Under the smoky ruins of Europe in those years, we try to capture the movement of
anxiety that comes from the America of the blacks, incubating the musical ferment
of blues and jazz, and identifying this root as emanating source for the ‘68 protest,
before even these idealistic hopes were get lost among the pitfalls of the newspeak
and the soft dictatorship.
Having reached this frontier of modernity, the sixth paragraph revisits retrospectively
the invention of free verse and the successive folds (calligrammes, technopaegnion6
arbitrary writings of avant-garde7
) that slowly, from an authentic expressive necessity,
degraded towards unconscious arbitrariness of glamour, with its corollary of
From this consideration, the concluding paragraphs arrive at the logical necessity of
giving back to poetry a notion of form and of logical instruments that can distinguish it
from unconscious arbitrary writing, aimed only at the vanity of those who exercise it.
It is only through this process of formal reintegration that the writer can be led back to
the obligation to reread what he has written. For the publisher this should sound as a moral imperative: not to stop his work to that of a printer. For the general public this
should be able to recover the conditions for a social significance of the poem and, in
this way, to amend and access the laically sacred function that is its own, which finally
is finding non-obvious meanings, thus leading to untried and unheard-of thoughts,
the only ones that can contribute to the development of the person and of society.
Through this way, coming back to its inner metric and structure, poetry may compose
the partiture of an urban renovation movement, creating conditions for a modern
interpretation of urban spaces as common goods, where the ineffable power of the
poetical word can introduce a new perception of life into the cities.
O Luce pura che custodisci la mia anima,
sia ringraziato ciascuno dei tuoi raggi dispersi
nelle tenebre dell’incomprensione che regna tra gli umani!
Fa’ che noi uomini di desiderio restiamo immuni dal giudizio
di chi confonde la nostra attitudine a servire con debolezza e inanità.
Fa’ che nell’animo di chi ci giudica con severità ed asprezza
si generi la comprensione che quella severità e quell’asprezza
non sono che lo sguardo intimo della coscienza
che traspone in noi le loro inadeguatezze:
e fa’ che i nostri Fratelli e le nostre Sorelle
dispersi per il mondo
una sorgente di luce
che permetta loro
di conoscere e di elevarsi
fino alla sfera delle cause profonde.
Di fronte alle Sacre Luci vi giunga il nostro sincero saluto,
e privo di ogni conflittualità possa rivelarsi in ἐγρήγορος nel giorno della Luna Piena.