FOUR POETS OF CORSICA

Poetry and Song in Corsica
A di meglio 1
Alanu di Meglio
Gfusina
Ghjacumu Fusina
Photo lucia
Lucia Santucci
'For a time during the 20th century, traditional singing in Corsica seemed to be on the wane, but the 1970s saw an upsurge in its popularity, during which time its value as a national symbol grew.'

The English language translations in this issue of Transcript are the work of Francis Beretti.

In Corsica, literary texts enjoy a close association with a strong tradition of song that has for centuries been part of island life. Each generation produces numerous new singers who carry the tradition on into the future, and each generation is a community of listeners whose appreciation of the lyrics is essential to their survival. Works of poetry stem from this oral tradition, and new literary texts are often assimilated into it.

For a time during the 20th century, traditional singing in Corsica seemed to be on the wane, but the 1970s saw an upsurge in its popularity, during which time its value as a national symbol grew. Known as paghjella, the singing of three voices together became synonymous with social cohesion and with the will of the islanders to stand together.

The success of paghjella, and its subsequent prominence in the media, provided a stage for the activists involved with the literary review Rigiru. Through the singing, their poetic works found a vehicle which brought it to the attention of a wide audience. And texts which may have remained on the page now enjoyed constant performance, while the singing tradition in turn found itself enriched by new material.

Today, this process of reciprocation between the oral and literary media continues. Certain poets, however, feel their work to be compromised by the demands of their communal, oral tradition where pride of place is often given to the island's agricultural and pastoral way of life. Varying degrees of nostalgia characterise many of the old songs, sometimes for the sensations associated with island life, whether colour or smell, for example. The earth is portrayed in a variety of ways as a maternal provider, and the sense of communion with a primitive body of things is often quite pronounced. Harmonious though this symbolism may seem, conflict and acrimony may soon erupt if the bond between man and his environment comes under threat, or is seen to be menaced.

A questioning and re-evaluation of these themes and symbols are characteristic of the four Corsican poet whose work Transcript now invites you to discover.














© University of Wales, Aberystwyth 2002-2009       home  |  e-mail us  |  back to top
site by CHL