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  • Dominic Cutajar (1980)

    Dominic Cutajar
    Il-Kantiku tad-Demm

    The Times 18th June 1980

    Achille Mizzi possesses an acutely introspective mind, finely sensitive to strands of mysticism that envelop all stages of life. He is a type of artist anchorite whose verse is the shrunken seed of his inner contemplation that, for the most part, he manages to impart not as remote and dry hermetic utterances, that the reader has to wrestle with to delve their ultimate meaning, but the concatenation of symbolic images derived eclectically from a truly wide fan of human culture.

    The real concern of his poetry ties with the existential condition of man, understood as universal and abiding malaise, and not as a historic involvement of the here-and-now, The philosophic purity of his visions made of his verse a lofty, original development in our literary traditions, breaking away from the ghetto mentality that has disfigured the older generation of poets who were content to distil sentiment and insular characteristics.

    Achille is at heart a romantic - a breed embarrassingly out of joint with modern life; but as a sensitive artist, the last thing he wants is to lose touch with the times. He has therefore disciplined himself to distrust mere reasons of the heart, and allow primacy to the mind. All his interest in scientific trivia stems precisely from his quest for a rational basis that will endure and that will effectively exorcise mere sentimentality to keep his message relevant and strictly in tune with modern sensibility. Yet there is a particular angle on which he can never break any compromise - the surrender of his sacred individuality in the mounting craze for a vicarious submerging of identities in a monstrous collective anonymity … …Achille Mizzi’s poetry is moulded by a profound cultural saturation that permeates all his thoughts. Deep down lurks the Manichean dualism, probably acquired through an oriental source; his verse is studded with refined flashes of classical and pagan eroticism; he handles with superb fervour the psalmodic and litanic diction derived from the semitic roots of our language. Essentially a contemplative and a mystic, his imagery chosen from everyday life avoids the nebulous, often exploding with absolute directness. He believes though in the redeeming mystery of love as his chiding ‘Lil Kristu ta’ Monreale’ eloquently sets out to do (though I rather believe he had the Pantocrator of Cefalu’ in mind). Il-Kantiku tad-Demm is Achille Mizzi’s most significant contribution to our modern verse. He has distilled his poetry to essentials, a fiery transmutation of sensibility, robbed of rhetoric and cliche’. We seem to watch the slow refining of an intensely poetic soul, that in passing throughout the fires of existence, lost in the process the base ingredients - to retain solely the glint of its inherent gold.