Roman Poems

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Pier Paolo Pasolini occupies a unique place in 20th century Italian art; he was both a filmmaker and a painter, but foremost he was a poet.  When he rarely appeared on television to promote one of his films, the concentration of his conversation was poetry; not even exclusively his own, (Pasolini adored the works of Ezra Pound).

Pasolini’s first collection published in the United States was Roman Poems. Roman Poems collects the pieces Pasolini wrote after his move to Rome, and presents the fruition of his style.  Considered by critics to be Italy’s best civil poet, it is in this volume that Pasolini blends his politics with self-reflection. Roman Poems was published in the U.S. by City Lights, the publisher and champion of such controversial works as Howl and Naked Lunch.

In Roman Poems Pasolini voices his concerns, dreams, and observations about Italy through a confessional format; the poem of existential crisis. There are the epic length poems such as A Sentimental Education, then there are more allegorical works that are comparatively brief and far more infrequent. Pasolini the activist is opening up, he is transforming from political orator, to human poet

Of the works collected in Roman PoemsThe Song Of The Bells is the least political and most reflexive of Pasolini the man as we know him through his films. Two nouns a line and a syllabic pattern make this piece one of the more accessible. His long political pieces are very rarely as whimsical. His confessional pieces like The Song Of The Bells find their reflection in the physical description of Pasolini’s environment.

“When evening loses itself in the mountains

my village is a confused color

Pasolini’s death in 1975 prompted Kenneth Anger to speculate that there are no films going to be made worth watching, and no poetry worth singing.