5. Poetic Baedeker

View of the Arno River, Florence.
View of the Arno River, Florence.

Florence, view of the Arno river and the Apennine mountains. Loy would have seen this view when walking from the Ponte Vecchio to her temporary 1914 residence at #27 Via dei Bardi (the famous bridge at her back). This street runs parallel to the river and just above its walls. Loy moved temporarily to a small apartment, near Giovanni Papini’s residence on Via dei Bardi, in the fall of 1914, having left her children in the care of the nursemaid in the mountain town of Saltino when the war started. She would stay here until the spring of 1915, when she returned to the Costa San Giorgio, taking up residence next door to her house, which had been rented.


This chapter will discuss the importance of place in the poems Loy wrote while living in Italy. Specific poems will be referenced in other essays and linked to this essay’s literary discussion. Currently, the chapter as envisioned in three sections:

  • Critical Conversations will map out the main approaches critics have taken in treating the poems from this period and their Italian resonance, most pronounced in considerations of Loy and Futurism. I would like this section to suggest other ways of thinking about the “en dehors” positioning of Italy-as-place performed within Loy’s poems.
  • Touring the Poems, The Poems as Tours will discuss poems that draw upon Italian places, details, and references.
  • “Mediterranean Sea”: Venice, Apennines, Carrara, Ligurian
  • “Giovanni Franchi”: Pitti Palace; trattoria across from Pitti Palace; Paschkowski’s café
  • “Three Italian Pictures”: Vallombrosa; Costa San Giorgio

“. . .  up   up     steep / Up    up          to the porta

Stained fresco of the dragon-slayer”

  • “At the Door of the House”: marble of Carrara (mined near Forte dei Marmi)
  • “Summer Night in a Florentine Slum”: Ponte Vecchio; “flamboyant passage of Carabinieri”
  • “The Prototype”, Duomo on Christmas Eve
  • “The Effectual Marriage,” postscript, Forte dei Marmi
  • “The Black Virginity,” Public Garden reference (if this is the Boboli Gardens, I have photos from there)
  • “Lion’s Jaws,” Fiume & Marinetti (see Conover’s note; composed after Florence)
  • Navigating Italy “en dehors” will discuss poems from the Florence period that do not directly engage specific sites/sights but either directly or indirectly summon up this period in Loy’s artistic life, particularly as a woman and an expatriot.
  • “Parturition” (Joella, Giles)
  • “Three Moments in Paris” (Futurism, FTM)
  • “Sketch of a Man on a Platform” (Futurism, FTM)
  • “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” (the omnipresence of Virgin figures, reliefs, statuary, on every street)
  • “Babies in Hospital”
  • “At the Door of the House”
  • “Human Cylinders”
  • “The Black Virginity”
  • “Ignoramus”
  • “The Beneficent Garland”
  • “Involutions”