The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Provisional Conclusions” actually comprises two poems: “Piccolo testamento” (“Little Testament”) consists of six sentences forming thirty undivided lines of free verse, while “Il sogno del prigioniero” (“The Prisoner’s Dream”) has thirty-four free-verse lines divided into four stanzas of various lengths. Each title plays upon alternate meanings of “conclusion”: “Little Testament” alludes to death, the final end, and “The Prisoner’s Dream” carries the political connotation of termination or liquidation. Both are written in the first person, for they present the poet’s “temporary judgment or conclusions” about contemporary life.

“Little Testament” opens at night as the poet contemplates his own kindled thoughts. No ardent blaze ignited by political or religious reflection (“factory or churchred or black” signify communism and Catholicism), the fragile “mother-of-pearl” iridescence springs from recollections of love. As if present, the poet tells his beloved to conserve the “powder” of these memories for the time when “every other light’s gone out” and “dark Lucifer” swoops down on the “wild,” “hellish” world to make the apocalyptic pronouncement, “It’s time.”

Hardly diminishing this frightening vision, the poet says his modest gift is “no inheritance, no goodluck charm/ to stand against the hurricanes.” Yet to counteract the gloom, he goes on to reassure his...

(The entire section is 506 words.)