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La Piccioletta Barca - Issue 15

Non-fiction

Always invoking an echo, a summer’s day

Always invoking an echo, a summer’s day

Sometimes words stick. Read enough and the most innocuous and well-trodden of words can suddenly harl onto an older, wispier network of voices imbedded deep in our minds. J.H. Prynne’s Al Dente (2014) has for its epigraph, all in italics, the inobtrusive phrase: “O...

Atheism, Religion, Judaism and Mathematics

Atheism, Religion, Judaism and Mathematics

1 I am a research mathematician and a Jewish American in the twentieth century United States. My own Jewish background comes more from the universalist Socialist Yiddishkeit tradition than from rabbinic Judaism. I mention all these facts upfront since it is relevant...

The journey of Cavafy’s poetry through history

The journey of Cavafy’s poetry through history

Cavafy called himself a poietes historikos: a poet-historian, or historical poet. It was through history that he found a way of understanding, coming to terms with and even sometimes, escaping his own confined life, which he describes in ‘The Walls’: Without pity,...

Peaches

Peaches

When my grandmother spoke of what she lost she chose to tell me about the perfume and flavor of peaches from another country. I sat and listened, age six, from a creaky kitchen chair. Her words tumbled like a river. I thought they might never end. She didn’t mention...

Robert Shaw’s Watch

Robert Shaw’s Watch

On May 25th, 1862, Robert Gould Shaw watched with his comrades in the Second Massachusetts Infantry as Stonewall Jackson defeated General Nathan Banks at the First Battle of Winchester. General Banks with his 6,500 Union troops would meet Stonewall Jackson’s near...

Success in Circuit Lies

Success in Circuit Lies

In Hill’s later poetry, one is consistently caught unawares by some slantwise piercing glance. Amidst the rumbling ground bass of gnarled density and difficulty, a keen pure tone sometimes shines through.

Larvaria

Larvaria

“Je raffole de tout ce qui rampe,” she told Van, her cousin and to-be-paramour. “I’m crazy about everything that crawls.” She was the last fictional love of my late childhood, slowly morphing into bursts of confused and chaotic lust.

For a place under the sun

For a place under the sun

Exploring the lives or the work of many artistic figures, the fear of their womb of thought becoming a tomb seems to torment them. This might seem paradoxical given the intuitive association of art with originality and the belief that the latter is an intrinsic trait of the firm. Instead, this self-evident thought is transmuted as an esoteric angst, an internalised mission.

Palintonos Harmonia

Palintonos Harmonia

Theatres are curious places, magician’s trick-boxes where the golden memories of dramatic triumphs linger like nostalgic ghosts, where the unexplainable, is normalized and the mundane is celebrated.

Words doing justice – A memoir from Palestine

Words doing justice – A memoir from Palestine

There are things they do not tell you about occupied Palestine. You see, there are two types of cities. The first is built to be seen, to be gazed at. To have its curved vernaculars adored and to have the words “hundred years” roll off the tongues of elegantly-practiced private guides.

Wager

Wager

Those who have talked to me within the past few weeks will know that a sudden confrontation with my pessimism about the future of humanity has plunged me into the first instance of what I seriously call an ‘existential crisis.’

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

I watched dusk over the Western Wall as the soundscape melted into the groans of praying Jews and the wails of some ten loudspeaker-anointed imams.

A dialogue with degeneration: the poet’s ceremonial chaos in ‘The Waste Land’

A dialogue with degeneration: the poet’s ceremonial chaos in ‘The Waste Land’

T.S Eliot’s poetry was consistently discoursing with Symbolist undertones, with despairing themes of social degradation and the need for individual alignment with spirituality. Particularly in the aftermath of the first World War, he shifted his focus from the gruesome battlefields of France to an overarching idea of degeneration which dominated his perspective of society and mankind.

An experiment in Japanese form

An experiment in Japanese form

He arrived at noon, trudging up the road with a black duffel bag slung over his shoulder. I never asked him how he got here. The station was much too far away to walk from, and he must have been completely exhausted. Perhaps the army truck dropped him off, or he might have taken a cab. But if that was so, why didn’t they leave him at the door?

The blossoms of the apricot blow from east to west

The blossoms of the apricot blow from east to west

In February 1888, Vincent van Gogh, travels from Paris to the Provence and looks out of the wagon’s window to ‘to see if it was like Japan yet’, enthralled – as he was – by Japanese woodblock prints. It was their light that he sought, a light that he found in the crisp sky of Arles.

Review of the letters of Adolph Törneros

Review of the letters of Adolph Törneros

Adolph Törneros was one of the most prominent members of the new school of romanticism which developed at the university in Uppsala in the early 1800s. During his lifetime he published very little, his oeuvre amounting to nothing more than some texts on Cicero and ancient Rome. What makes him a remembered and still cherished part of the Swedish literary panthéon are his letters.