Orphic Songsby Dino Campana
Dino Campana, who has been compared to Rimbaud, was the wild man of Italian poetry in 1914, on the eve of World War I. The war saved some young Italians from rebellion and for Fascism, but not Campana. Always an outsider, he dropped out of school and discovered the individualism, ecstatic conception, and democratic humanity of Whitman. At the age of twenty-two, Campana went to sea, then became a vagabond, working sporadically as gaucho, miner, fireman, organ-grinder, janitor, circus tumbler, musician, and horse-groomer. He tramped through many countries, playing the local fairs with Gypsy bands.
Still in his twenties, he wrote Orphic Songs, a unique, visionary masterwork of Italian literature. These poems and prose poems, ablaze with the fury of a poet crazed by life, "read as though they were thrown into the wind in an ecstasy of violence, " writes the translator, I. L. Salomon. Campana died in Castel Pulci, a psychiatric hospital, in 1932. The originality, rapturous language, and strange beauty of his work make him as important to twentieth-century poetry as Garcia Lorca or Mayakovsky.
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