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Roman Poems

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  256 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The Italian film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini was first and always a poet—the most important civil poet, according to Alberto Moravia, in Italy in the second half of this century. His poems were at once deeply personal and passionately engaged in the political turmoil of his country. In 1949, after his homosexuality led the Italian Communist Party to expel him on charges of ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by City Lights (first published January 1st 1986)
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J.W.D. Nicolello
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Pasolini has had a colossal impact on my artistic life. I want to clear things up for the curious, normally beginning and ending with vomiting, hive-mind reviews of the film that got him assassinated on the beach, and the average pseudointellectual's insistence on burying the poet there, for all time.

In 2008 I spent most of my autumn with a dear friend, a transvestite. The only reason her transgender is mentioned is because along with the transition, M believed to defy all of life - society,
Steven Godin
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italy, poetry, favourites

Multi talented novelist, Poet, Playwright, actor, philosopher, Journalist and Politically active homosexual. But for many outside Italy, Pier Paolo Pasolini will always be remembered for being a controversial director. All because of his last and most notorious film, Salo, 120 days of sodom, which does not do the true Pasolini justice, and probably the reason that cost him his life (well that's my own opinion anyway). As long before he turned to film making he was a vastly superior writer,
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is painfully clear that, in this case, the poetry has suffered in translation. I look at the Italian and it simply sounds better than the English. In translation,

Sesso, consolazione della miseria!
La puttana è una regina, il suo trono
è un rudere, la sua terra un pezzo


Sex, consolation for misery!
The whore is queen, her throne a ruin,
her land a piece of shitty field

Roll the original around your mouth. It has an earthiness and a bounce that the English version doesn't have. Now imagine
William West
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Like most Americans, I came to Pasolini's poetry by way of his cinema. I like some of his films, particularly "Porcile". But I must say I find him a greater poet than film-maker. If his cinema was "post-neo-realist," concerned with Marxist themes of exploitation in his home-land, yet stylistically expressionistic and obscure, his poetry is, in cinematic terms, "Italian Neo-Realist." It is concerned with his country's devastated post-war state, and also with the plight of his fellow homosexuals ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"In poetry, a solution to everything."
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
You are in the streets of Rome with Pasolini and his gift of poetic vision and word are eminent throughout this book.
Dec 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Read this poet..he directed one of the foulest movies in history..he was kicked out of the Communist Party for liking buttsecks and assassinated. His poems are modernist lyrics.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A small book, forty or so poems, with an introduction by Alberto Moravia. My "amazement" is a minor kind, in fitting with the tenor of the poems, with Pasolini's lines spent in a nostalgic reverie recalling the light or smell of Fruili. As he says in the opening poem, Diario, "like existence itself [...] I can only stay true to the stupendous monotony of the mystery." Though you can't get away from the scandal with Pasolini - hey, the poems were written in Rome, between his "exile" from Friuli ...more
Sébastien Bernard
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The introduction reminds us of Pasolini’s reputation as a ‘civil poet’, and Moravia ventures a definition: “a poet who sees his native land in a way that the powerful of the country do not and cannot see it.” Asked to describe himself in an interview, he appends a quote attributed to Elsa Morante: “I'm a narcissist with ... an unlucky love for the world.” The two definitions combined offer a decent picture, and the feeling here.

In these pieces selected and translated by Ferlinghetti, Pasolini
Ethan Miller
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful little well bound, pocket size poetry book published by the great City Lights Books. "Roman Poems" is a collection of poems about modern Roman life by the incomparable Pier Paolo Pasolini. Pasolini was one of Italy's great poets, a philosopher, political agitator and of course a legendary filmmaker in the history of cinema just to touch the broad strokes of his resume. This collection of poems seems to span writing from the 1940s up to his murder in 1975. They sing with a ...more
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent collection of poems spanning a 25 year period of Pasolini's life in Rome. This edition includes side-by-side Italian originals, which is a great feature for students of the language. The last two pieces published here include examples of Pasolini's native Friulian dialect.

It's a beautifully bound linguistic gem, on top of being a concise anthology demonstrating Pasolini's brilliant expression of homeland nostalgia and his Catholic-Marxist celebration of Italy's meekest, suffering
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've seen some of his films but I had no idea that he was a poet and an artist also. This is a special edition to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death in 1975, when he was murdered. Wonderful poems about Roman life, with passion, politics, love, death, and sex all swimming in this colourful city. If you like Baudelaire, Wilde, Dante, or Shelley, you'll love this. I can smell the streets, the city spaces, picture the people, sense the feelings. Fantastic poems with a few of his drawings ...more
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
"[T:]he stupendous monotony of the mystery." Many surprises in this tiny, deceptively little, city lights' book. It sounds like Pasolini subscribed to this openness in his political beliefs, as well--surprising all the leftists by calling the policemen the true proletariat in a student protest in 1969. I couldn't help but read "Roman Poems" in light of his expulsion from the Communist party and move to the outskirts of Rome. A harshness here--a wretchedness as a kind of backdrop to these ...more
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't care for the line breaks in the translation, but it's Pasolini; you can't fuck up Pasolini too much. Also, the poems are arched in a way that plays some of Pasolini's themes against each other but only do.far as to make the book look like a "book." But it's Piero mofo Pasolini; Ser previous almost-syllogism.
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-unowned, poetry
I don't like this translation much - unsurprising, since I've never been very fond of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The thoughts and sentiments are fascinating. With just my meager familiarity with Spanish and Latin, I can tell that the line breaks in the original are infinitely more intriguing than those in the translation.
James Tracy
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the finest Italian poets ever translated into the English language.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Who knew? Pasolini wrote poems and they evoke the same scenes and themes as his films. These in particular evoke life after the war.
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Socialist experimental poetry at its best!
Carlitos Caprioli
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Beautiful edition from City Lights. Gritty poems from the poor streets of Rome, back in the day. Terrific translation, comes close to the very defined rhythm of the original.
Barry Levy
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Having seen nearly all of Pasolini's films and having read one of his works of fiction, this book of poetry was a pleasant surprise. He recalls the sights and smells and sounds of city life, of poverty and of his youth. There is a lovely, heartfelt poem about his mother, a much longer one describing his emotions upon seeing paintings in Rome, and a brief poem foreshadowing his death. There are photographs of Pasolini as well as drawings by him. An added bonus in this edition is the translation ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From "The Search for a Home"—

yesterday? Every day my anxiety is higher,
every day the grief more mortal.
Today more than yesterday terror exalts me . . .

And, from "The Lament of the Excavator"—

The dark corners and peaceful walls

echo with enchanted noise.
Men and boys returning home
under festoons of lonely lights,

toward their alleys choked with darkness and garbage,
with that soft step
which struck my soul

when I really loved,
when I really longed to understand.
And now as then, they disappear,
To be clear: I despised Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, Pasolini's final film; it left a terrible taste in my mouth (and if you've seen it, you know that coprophiliac scene).

But his poetry is a bit of a revelation. I was astonished by the blunt yet lyrical diction (which more than occasionally suffers in translation, but thank you Ferlinghetti for publishing a bilingual text). Some poems are personal, some vignettes, but somehow always elevated by their very mundanity.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good book but a little dry and it might have to do with the translation and my Italian isn’t that good to benefit from the original. I’ll definitely give it another go once I make more progress on learning Italian.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Matt Morris
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Yelena Moskovich
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every translated poem should come with its original, shoulder-to-shoulder.

Ragged & elegant, testifies & prays.

There is also a lot of love, between the toes, under the fingernails of his words.
Andre Bagoo
rated it it was amazing
Jan 16, 2012
Frida Polished
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Sep 08, 2016
Sophie Reena
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May 13, 2013
Matthew Carbery
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Nov 26, 2016
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Italian film director, screenwriter, essayist, poet, critic and novelist, was murdered violently in Rome in 1975. Pasolini is best known outside Italy for his films, many of which were based on literary sources - The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales. Pasolini referred himself as a 'Catholic Marxist' and often used shocking juxtapositions of imagery to expose ...more
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“We survive, in the confusion
of a life reborn beyond reason.”
“The fury of confession, at first,
then the fury of clarity:
It was from you, Death, that such hypocritical
obscure feeling was born! And now
let them accuse me of every passion,
let them bad-mouth me, let them say I’m deformed,
impure, obsessed, a dilettante, a perjurer.
You isolate me, you give me the certainty of life,
I’m on the stake. I play the card of fire
and I win this little, immense goodness of mine.
I can do it, for I have suffered you too much!

I return to you as an émigré returns
to his own country and rediscovers it:
I made a fortune (in the intellect)
and I’m happy, as I once was,
destitute of any norm,
a black rage of poetry in my breast.
A crazy old-age youth.
Once your joy was confused with terror,
it’s true, and now almost with other joy,
livid and arid, my passion deluded.
Now you really frighten me,
for you are truly close to me,
part of my angry state, of obscure hunger,
of the anxiety almost of a new being.”
More quotes…