Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Semiologic Quatrain

I have just remembered a passage by Montale which impressed me when I firstly read it.
It is the the last quatrain of Maestrale, a poem of Ossi di seppia, the best known collection of Montale, my preferred modern Italian poet.

sotto l'azzurro fitto
del cielo qualche uccello di mare se ne va;
né sosta mai: perché tutte le immagini portano scritto
« più in là »!
 Which, in English, might be rendered quite approximatively:

beneath the thick azure
of the sky some seabird flies away;
and never rests: because all the images bear inscribed:
" further on"!
Once again, as I said in a former post, poets get to the core. In a few words, Montale, makes us grasp most vividly the essence of σημείωσις. I mean the "signification" or production of meaning; i.e. an object (word, icon, symbol, trace, ...) transcends itself pointing elsewhere.
In fact, Montale, forces a little applying the process to images, which in classic semiotics, are considered self-sufficient: their meaning is contained in themselves; they do not need to point elsewhere in order to signify.
But enough niceties! No dissertation can equal a few lines of great poetry.

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