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Dino Campana 20 August — 1 March was an Italian visionary poet. His fame rests on his only published book of poetry, the Canti Orfici "Orphic Songs" , as well as his wild and erratic personality, including his ill-fated love affair with Sibilla Aleramo. Campana was born near Faenza in the small town of Marradi , which is found in the Apennines along the border between the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany.
His father Giovanni, who was always affectionate and understanding with Dino, was an elementary school principal, and forthright member of the community, but had a weak and neurotic character.
His mother, Fanny Luti, came from a wealthy family but was an eccentric and compulsive woman, affected by mental illness. She would often wander the hills, forgetting about family duties, but was overly attached to Dino's brother Manlio, born in After his younger brother arrived, Dino was overlooked by his mother and had to fight for her affection.
In , at approximately fifteen years of age, Campana was diagnosed with the first symptoms of nervous disturbances, was medicated and sent to an asylum. This did not, however, prevent him from completing most of his schooling. He completed his elementary education in Marradi - his third, fourth and fifth gymnasium years at the Salesiani di Faenza.
Afterwards, he began the lyceum at the Liceo Torricelli in Faenza and then in Carmagnola near Turin where he earned his high school diploma in July When he returned to Marradi his nervous condition worsened and he suffered frequent mood swings - due to the difficult relationship with his family especially his mother and the town. To overcome the monotony of winter evenings in Marradi, Dino used to go to the nearby town of "Gerbarola", where he spent time with the locals enjoying roasted chestnuts marroni chestnuts grow near Marradi.
This type of activity appeared to have a positive effect on his mental health. At the age of 18, in the Autumn of he enrolled in faculty of chemistry at the University of Bologna. In , after being denied entry into the military as an officer in Ravenna, Dino enrolled in faculty of pharmaceutical chemistry in Florence , but afer only a few months he returned to Bologna.
Some of his first poetic work would be written here, and later included in Orphic Songs. Campana did not finish university and had a difficult time finding his true calling.
Campana had an irrepressible desire to escape and dedicate himself to a life of vagrancy , which he accomplished by undertaking various jobs. The first reaction of his family, his town, and the public authorities was to consider Campana's strange behavior and travels to foreign countries as an obvious signs of madness. He was judged with suspicion both because his physical traits were considered too German, and due to the vigorous way he discussed poetry and philosophy.
Following his journeys, the police in agreement with the psychiatric practices of the time and the uncertainty of his family , admitted him to a lunatic asylum , at the age of Between May and July , Campana made a first trip to Switzerland and France , which ended with his arrest in Bardonecchia and his admission to the mental asylum Imola.
In , not knowing what to do about their son's madness, Campana's parents sent him to stay in Latin America with a family of Italian immigrants. Campana left out of fear of being sent back to the asylum.
Campana's parents also supported the move to send him to America , in the hope that it would help him recover, but it seems that the passport was valid only for arrival - likely an attempt to get rid of him, since living with Campana had become unbearable, at that point.
It seems that his mother had come to believe that her son was the Antichrist. There are also different opinions about possible dates of travel and the route home. The most credible hypothesis is that he left in the autumn of from Genova , and wandered around Argentina until the spring of , when he returned to Marradi, and was subsequently arrested.
After asking his family for help, he was sent back to Marradi and lived through a quieter period, likely re-enrolling in university. With green garlands To autumnal earth A last goodbye!
On the harsh barren Reddened hillsides in the waning sun Life in the distance Its raucous cries merged screams: Screams to the dying sun.
That stains the flowerbeds with blood. In its original form, Campana's only book of poetry contained poems composed between and It was not taken into account and the manuscript was lost, only to be found in , after the death of Soffici, among his papers in the house of Poggio a Caiano probably in the same place where it had been abandoned and forgotten.
After a few months of waiting Campana travelled from Marradi to Florence to recover his manuscript. Papini did not have it and sent him to Soffici who denied that he ever had the booklet. Campana, whose mind was already frail, became angry and despondent, for he had delivered, trustingly, the only copy he had. Finally, exasperated, Campana threatened to come with a knife to take justice from the 'infamous' Soffici and his associates, whom he called ' sciacalli ' jackals.
In the winter of , convinced he could no longer recover the manuscript, Campana decided to rewrite everything, relying on memory and his sketches. In a few days, working at night and at the cost of huge mental effort, he managed to rewrite the poetry, albeit with modifications and additions. In the spring of , with the help of a local printer of religious tracts, Campana was finally able to self-publish the collection 'Orphic Songs' at his own expense, the title a reference to the mythic figure of Orpheus, the first of poet-musicians.
The first edition constituted around copies originally meant to be 1, The text is an autobiographical journey from Marradi through Bologna , Genova , Argentina and back to Genoa. This concept is not explicitly defined in the text, which is less expository or didactic than incantatory in nature. Indeed, it has been left to his critics to extrapolate much of the underlying theory in Campana's work. An erratic autodidact , Campana taught himself functional French , German and English - enough to read the Symbolists and Whitman in the original languages.
The original manuscript was found amongst Soffici's belongings in This find demonstrated that not only had Campana rewritten the original text almost perfectly but had also nearly doubled it in size. In , Campana again went travelling, without a fixed goal: passing through Turin , Domodossola , and then Florence. At the outbreak of the First World War , Campana the pacifist and neutralist, was exempt from military service, ostensibly because of physical health problems, but in reality he was known to be seriously mentally ill.
In the poet looked for employment in vain. He wrote to Emilio Cecchi and began a short correspondence with the author. At Livorno he met with the journalist Athos Gastone Banti, who wrote him a disparaging article in the journal "Il Telegrafo": this nearly ended in a duel. In the same year Campana met Sibilla Aleramo , the author of the novel Una donna , and began an intense and tumultuous relationship with her, that she ended at the start of after a brief encounter at Christmas in Marradi.
Their letters and correspondence, published by Feltrinelli in , are testimony of the relationship between Campana and Aleramo.
This correspondence begins with a letter from Aleramo dated June 10, , where author expresses her admiration for "Canti Orfici", declaring the poems have 'enchanted and bedazzled' her. The letter was written while Sibilla was on holiday at the Villa La Topaia in Borgo San Lorenzo and Campana was in a critical condition at Firenzuola , recovering from a partial paralysis on his right side. In , Campana was once again admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Castel Pulci, in Scandicci Florence , where he was to remain until his death.
The only surviving accounts of this period of Campana's life are in the interviews with the psychiatrist Carlo Pariani, who confirmed the irrefutable diagnosis of Campana's mental state: Disorganised schizophrenia - an incurable and extremely serious form of schizophrenia.
Dino Campana died, seemingly from sepsis on March 1, One theory is that the infection was caused by a barbed wire injury during an escape attempt. In , on the behest of Piero Bargellini, the remains of the poet were given a more dignified burial and the body was transferred to the chapel below the bell tower of the Church of San Salvatore. During the Second World War , on August 4, , the retreating German army blew up the bell tower, destroying the chapel. In , following a ceremony attended by numerous Italian intellectuals, including Eugenio Montale , Alfonso Gatto , Carlo Bo , Ottone Rosai , Pratolini and others, the bones of the poet were placed inside the church of San Salvatore Badia a Settimo, where they remain today.
Campana's poetry is a new poetry in which sounds, colors and music are blended in a powerful vision. The line is undefined, an expressive articulation of monotony, but at the same time full of dramatic images of annihilation and purity.
The title of Campana's only published work alludes to the Orphic hymns , a literary genre developed in ancient Greece between the second and third century AD and characterized by a non-classical theogony. Also prayers to the gods especially the god Phanes are characterized by spells to prevent evil and misfortune.
One of the major themes of Campana, which is present at the beginning of the "Orphic Songs" in the early prose parts - "The Night", "Journey and Return" - is the obscurity between dream and wakefulness.
Adjectives and adverbs return with the repetitive insistence of a dreamer's speech: a dream, however, that is interrupted by startling shifts in tone as in the poem "The Skylight". In the second part - the nocturne of "Genoa", all the basic mythic figures and scenes that will preoccupy Campana return: port cities, barbaric mother figures, enormous prostitutes, windy plains, the captive teenager.
Even in his prose poems, the use of repetition, superlatives, and keywords, as well as the effect of resonance in prepositions, create a strong scene. In the fifteen years following his death at the end of World War II , and before, during the period of expressionism and futurism , the interpretation of Campana's poetry focused on the apparently uncontrolled depth of the word, hidden in a psychological state of hallucination and ruin.
Dino Campana 20 August — 1 March was an Italian visionary poet. His fame rests on his only published book of poetry, the Canti Orfici "Orphic Songs" , as well as his wild and erratic personality, including his ill-fated love affair with Sibilla Aleramo. Campana was born near Faenza in the small town of Marradi , which is found in the Apennines along the border between the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany. His father Giovanni, who was always affectionate and understanding with Dino, was an elementary school principal, and forthright member of the community, but had a weak and neurotic character. His mother, Fanny Luti, came from a wealthy family but was an eccentric and compulsive woman, affected by mental illness.