Giuseppe Napolitano

Refrains of Orpheus                 

To Anton Baev

Orpheus has too many distractions to believe

the tale of a woman in love

with his voice, his poetry

and joyfully surrenders to other dreams

while his fable becomes true

taking him away from new temptations


The poet knows that harder still

another mission awaits him

where his voice, his poetry

he needs to entrust to the listener

and walk away from old temptations


An unsettled refrain cannot return

life to a girl in love

if the poetry of a true fairy tale

he won’t sing with love


And again, a love returns to life

thanks to words guarded with confidence

by him who knows how to light them into poetry


The freshly lit flame cannot be extinguished

if a good heart nourishes the dream

Orpheus won’t forget this now


Tetovë, 22 Oct. 2017



Writing an “honest” poetry

About a century ago, the Italian poet Umberto Saba wrote: “It is high time for the poets to start writing honest poetry”. I think, it’s still time for “honest” poetry, time to say something about what we can still think of poetry today, taking into account what poetry has been during the centuries and the past millennia. I had been a teacher of Italian and Latin Literature for 33 years and to me it is always exciting to hear about classical prosody, line meter, caesurae… Anyway, I think that being aware of technique (which is surely important) is not enough, if you don’t have something to say to someone who is able to recognize the code in which you communicate. I think, poetry comes rather from our minds than from our hearts and feelings. You can love, you can wish somebody with all your heart, you can express suffering, but everything must be filtered through your mind, so that you can establish a connection with another mind able to recognize the code and to read the message, and to feel it as a message of his own.

So, ancient Orpheus lost his wife for the second time – on their way out of the underworld. His heart spoke right: don't turn back, don't lose her! But his mind kept saying: she has such a big place in your life, and the place for the other lives, those which you could live again, is so small... Orpheus is the poet changing his world with a word – with no word, sometimes (just according to a new temptation). Orpheus is the poet able to teach us how we can open our mind, he does it by changing our feelings with a word, blowing an answer in the wind of life.

This is poetry, actually: a communication which becomes intensity of feelings. In order to do all this well, you have to convey a simple and understandable message but at the same time, it must be deeply rich and open-minded. Only in so doing those who receive it are ready to take it up. The reader can do that only if he reasons with his own mind and manages to feel the message as his own, turning it to another mind, to another sensitive reader.

Finally, we should learn to love and enjoy classical poetry, past great poets’ poetry, but above all, we should read with pleasure, in order to grasp perceptions, sensations and allusions on which we should work “honestly”, so that they become our own way to understand reality. A poet is not naturally born a poet. Being a poet is not enough: we should work out poetry day by day, and day by day we should build up what is a real “mission”. Only this way we can be entitled to use the name of poet.


(Translated by Jason R. Forbus)


The project “International Festival of Poetry “ORPHEUS” – Plovdiv 2018” was realized with the financial support of “The Cultural Programme for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2018” of the National Culture Fund.


Bulgarian Presidency
of the Council of the European Union

© 2018 International Poetry Festival „Orpheus” – Plovdiv
Международен фестивал на поезията „ОРФЕЙ” – Пловдив