peculiar mood, as in Motet X:nWhy are you waiting? Thensquirrel in the pine treenbeats its torchlike tail on thenbark.nThe half moon sinks with onentip fadingninto the sun. The day isnfinished.nThe lazy smoke is startled by anbreezenbut gathers itself to cover you.nNothing will end, or everything,nif you,nthe flash of lightning, leave thencloud.n(A misprint must have escaped proofreadingnin the fourth line: following thenoriginal meaning, “The day” should ben”The night.”) And here in Motet XVIInis an example of how cleverly he canncombine adherence to the original textnand claim to personal re-creation:nThe frog, first to try its chordnagainnfrom the reed-choked, mistynpond,nthe rustle of the interwovenncarob trees where a cold sunnis snuffing out its ownnweak rays, the slowndrone of hornets in the flowersnwhere there’s still a little sap—nthe last sounds,nthe bare life of the country.nOne breathnand the hour is extinguished: anskynthe color of slate prepares fornthe explosionnof death-thin horses, of flamingnhooves.nMontale shared his unorthodoxnstructure, illogical sequence, and subjectivenlanguage with a generation ofninterwar Italian poets that includednUngaretti and Quasimodo. Montalenwas keenly aware of the Europeanninfluences — mainly from French Symbolism—nthat the Hermetic school ofnpoetry received and spread this side ofnthe Alps. But Montale did more thannjust lean to modernist taste. As Gioianpoints out, a whole world of classics —nthe heritage common to all studentsnwho had undergone classical education,nor “liceo classico,” in Italy—was atnwork in his background.n42/CHRONICLESn. . . Montale’s pessimism doesnnot arise from either existentialnnausee or decadent ennui, butnfrom an acceptance of lifenwithout any comfortingnillusions. His vision focuses onnthe tragic insight ultimatelynbehind all philosophy—thenrecognition that man’s life isnmeager compared to theninexhaustible and eternalnpresence of the worid. In thisnsense perhaps Montale seemsncloser to Sophocles than tonEliot. … If one wanted to findna comparable sensibility innEuropean poetry, one wouldnturn not to any contemporarynbut to the other great poet ofnthe Italian landscape, Lucretiusnthe Epicurean. . . .nAs long as it does not make one overlooknthe decisive influence of Europeannmodernist trends in the shaping ofnMontale’s sensibility and verse, the argumentnis helpful in pointing out thenpoet’s complexity.nBut the book under review also remindsnus of another aspect of Montale’snwriting that is at the moment overshadowednby his reputation as a poet: hisnneatness and clarity as an essayist—nqualities that, unfortunately, are notneasily found in Italian letters afternCroce. The short essay most appropriatelynappended to this edition of Mottettinis a significant sample of the othernside of Montale’s talents.nCosma Siani is a teacher andntextbook writer living in Rome.nDance to thenMusic of Timenby E. Christian KopffnOvid’s Poetry of ExilenTranslated into verse bynDavid R. SlavittnBaltimore: The Johns HopkinsnUniversity Press; 240 pp., $32.50n(hardcover), $12.95 (paper)nThe struggle to keep poetry alive is angame of tag-team wrestling, andnthe greatest poets play their matchesnwith the poets of ancient Greece andnnnRome. We all know it for Latin. Plautusnand Vergil are centones of Greek verse,ntheir originality hidden, for some, bynpassage after passage taken directly fromnGreek poetry.nEnglish poets have played in thensame arena. Shakespeare learned hownto make verse sing and stage actionnjump by rewriting Ovid and Plautus.nThe classic tradition of English versenbegins with John Sylvester’s translationnof Du Bartas and hits its stride withnDryden’s Vergil and Pope’s Homer.n(Professors should not be allowed tonpontificate on “The Rape of the Lock”nand “The Epistle to Doctor Arbuthnot”nuntil they have worked throughnPope’s Iliad.) From Milton to T.S.nEliot our greatest poets have knownnGreek and Latin and other languagesnto boot and have filled their verse withnechoes and quotations. English poetryngrew strong out of that sometimesnrough-and-ready contact sport.nSo it is no wonder that our contemporarynpoetry is anemic and asthmatic,nthat it wheezes out limp phrases, mumblingnto itself about personal problemsnor the politics of newspaper editorials.nIt needs to be sent south to the Mediterraneannfor its health. Its regimennmust be the classics in the originalntongues. It has to resign its currentnmotto: “Better mendacities than thenclassics in paraphrase.”nIf American poetry does manage tonrise above easy despair and gimpyleggednverse, it may look back to DavidnSlavitt as one of its chief benefactors.nIn 1971 he gave us The Eclogues ofnVirgil, a lively and exciting mosaic ofntranslation placed carefully in the midstnof poetic, moral, and political reflections,nwhich is still my favorite book bynhim.nNow he has tried something bigger,nmaius opus, an attempt to re-feel andnrewrite the extant poetry that Ovidnwrote while passing the last decade ofnhis life in Tomis, modern Gonstansa innRumania. He had written a poem andnhe had made a mistake (carmen etnerror) and the Emperor Augustus sentnOvid out of Rome, never to return.nOvid did not stop writing poetry.nHis career had been founded on hisnbrilliant success in taking the conventionsnof Latin personal love poetry,nborn from Gatullus’ genius and hisnaffair with the wife of a Roman consul,nand playing with these conventions son