November 2020Spectacle

To Mussolini

A man may lose his soul for just one day
Of splendor and be still accounted wise,
Or he may waste his life in a disguise,
Like kings and priests and jesters, and still may
 

Be saved and held a hero if the play
Is all he knew. But what of him who tries
With truth and fails, and then wins fame with lies?
How shall he know what history will say?

By this: No man is great who does not find
A poet who will hail him as he is
With an almighty song that will unbind
Through his exploits eternal silences.

Duce, where is your bard? In all mankind
The only poem you inspired is this.

***

Arturo Giovannitti was a poet, playwright, newspaper editor, early booster of the IWW, editor, and anarcho-socialist. Active throughout the early 20th century, he made prominent, if largely forgotten, contributions both to the American arts and labor movement. Drawing from his experience within the Italian diaspora in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, his works aimed to inspire political consciousness among the working class through stage plays, poetry, and print newspapers.

Giovannitti died in the Bronx, 1959. His papers can be found at the University of Minnesota, or can be found as published in Arrows in the Gale & Other Poems by Quale Press.

See more in categoryReturn to Issue