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Last Voyage: Selected Poems of Giovanni Pascoli


This first appearance of Pascoli?s poems in English translation provides an introduction to his work for the English-speaking reader. The first section of the book includes some of Pascoli?s brief lyric poems, many of them displaying his innovative use of image narrative. We see scenes of country life in his village near Barga, Italy, in the Apuan Alps, at the end of the 19th century. We see the aurora borealis, chickens, donkeys, women hanging laundry, the new railway and men ...

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This first appearance of Pascoli’s poems in English translation provides an introduction to his work for the English-speaking reader. The first section of the book includes some of Pascoli’s brief lyric poems, many of them displaying his innovative use of image narrative. We see scenes of country life in his village near Barga, Italy, in the Apuan Alps, at the end of the 19th century. We see the aurora borealis, chickens, donkeys, women hanging laundry, the new railway and men crushing wheat.

The second part of the book consists of three somewhat formal narrative poems set in classical Rome and Greece.

The book ends with a long narrative sequence, an exciting and poignant re-imagining of Odysseus’ famous tale told from the perspective of an old man. The aging hero falls asleep by the fire with Penelope and dreams a final voyage, in which he reassembles his old crew and visits the scenes of his earlier adventures: Circe, the Sirens, the Cyclops, Lotus Eaters and Calypso.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597094870
  • Publisher: Red Hen Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Brown’s forthcoming poetry collection, Walking the Dog’s Shadow, won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions. She is a professor of English and Chair of the Humanities Division at the University of New Hampshire, Manchester, where she has received the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award. She is an editor, with Maxine Kumin and Annie Finch, of Lofty Dogmas: Poets on Poetics (University of Arkansas Press, 2005). Her essays, poems and translations have been published in American Literature, Modern Language Studies, Prairie Schooner, The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Women's Review of Books, The Connecticut Review and other literary journals. A chapbook, News from the Grate, (Oyster River Press), came out in 2002. She lives with her husband, George, and four cats on a former dairy farm in the woods of Warner, New Hampshire.

Richard Jackson is the author of ten books of poems, most recently Resonance (Ashland Poetry Press, 2010), Half Lives: Petrarchan Poems (Autumn House, 2004), Unauthorized Autobiography: New and Selected Poems (Ashland, 2003), Heartwall (University of Massachusetts, 2000 Juniper Prize), and Svetovi Narazen (Slovenia, 2001). His own poems have been translated into fifteen languages. He has edited two anthologies of Slovene poetry, the Selected Poems of Iztok Osojnik (Slovenia), and Poetry Miscellany. In 2000, he was awarded the Order of Freedom Medal for literary and humanitarian work in the Balkans by the President of Slovenia and has received a Guggenheim, NEA, NEH, two Witter-Bynner and Fulbright Fellowships, and five Pushcart Prizes. He has won two teaching awards at UT-Chattanooga and the Vermont College MFA program. His previous book of translation is Alexander Persolja’s, Potovanje Sonca (Journey of the Sun) from Slovene, 2008.

Susan Thomas has stories, poems and translations in many journals and anthologies and has won the Iowa Poetry Award from Iowa Review, the Ann Stanford Prize from University of Southern California, and the 2010 MR Prize from the Mississippi Review. Her collection, State of Blessed Gluttony, (Red Hen Press, 2004), won the Benjamin Saltman Prize. She is also the author of two chapbooks, The Hand Waves Goodbye, and Voice of the Empty Notebook. Susan owes whatever Italian she knows to her wonderful dictionary and her experience working as a maid in a pensione in Florence many years ago. She learned many kitchen terms and rural curses and had the privilege of making up, every morning, the bed in Guido di Cavalcanti’s villa, often slept in by his friend Dante Alighieri.

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  • Posted February 7, 2011

    translations of 19th-century Italian poet's lyrical poetry

    Giovanni Pascoli was an Italian 19th-century poet, 1855-1912. In his poems, there is a sense of space, with space often as a metaphor for absence. "Silence, all around: from far away you hear/only the gusting of the wind..." [from "November"]. "I can hear from such a distance,/the farewell of a steam engine..." [from "The Kiss of Death"] Pascoli himself has suggested that his early poems are an elegy for his father, who died while young in an assassination that was never solved. But the later poems retain this elegiac tone too.

    This elegiac, slightly mournful, though lyric quality comes to full fruition in Pascoli's long, multipart poem "Last Voyage" ("L'Ultimo Viaggio" in Italian) written toward the end of his life. This is a reworking of Homer's "Odysseus" in which Odysseus does not return home to Ithaca, but in a deep sleep passes it by and retraces parts of his voyage from Troy. Pascoli is so masterful with the mournful, melancholic tone that this poem of classical content covering about 50 pages (in the English) would not be called an epic, but rather, however improbably, a long lyric poem.

    Odysseus like Pascoli passes by the conventional, given subject occupied by a different destiny. Though the translations sensitively, empathetically impart Pascoli's sensitive, ruminative mood in full, one wonders if the original Italian title "L'Ultimo Viaggio" wouldn't have been better translated "Ultimate Voyage." For in Pascoli's hands, Odysseus voyages to his death. He returns to the enchanted isle goddess Calypso who wraps the hero in the "cloud of her hair...[after] the sea returned him."

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