Tis a fabulous day to be soaring
Over England & her summer-bronz’d fields,
Her towns & cities shaped like knitted shields,
Then… over the Channel’s kitchen flooring.
Old Antwerp passes under in a ring,
With Amsterdam a pleasure to behold,
Huge cumuli glide under glinting gold,
As Europe’s plains bytrundle under wing.
From cloudy masses rank & file emerge
In polka dot procession to the Alps,
Stones tumble upwards ‘til their snowy scalps
Upstrain to touch us with a granite surge,
When… all at once… our spirits flurry free
Above the orange rooves of Italy!
There is a way to make a poor man rich,
Bedazzle him with beauties, to distill
Life’s quintessential essence, without which
Drouth drains the inkwell, uncouth cracks the quill!
Yes, set him free, some large & open hall,
Where from the soft & guileless rise of strings
Both passing urchins & the wealth-set stall
Rais’d on adagionic angels’ wings;
Then let him listen synasthesean,
Turning to worderie those mimesi,
Which bubble from the orb’d empyrean,
Wall’d-workshop of a makar’s primal eye;
Where listening to some lush-string’d Quartet,
The Mousai bless him with ae fond bousette!
Serene afternoon… the streets of Rab are quiet, the stones
I step on as smooth as silk – the sky cloudless, deep azure,
Collar turned up I begin an ascent, the terrain
A plethora of white, jagged, quartz-like stone.
Half-way up the yellow, flower-trumpet dotted peak
I gaze back on an island, evergreen forest-realm
Silky-still lagoons, snow-capp’d mainland mountains
& Rab’s marble township jutting out like luxury liner.
My ears strain for noise, relieved by buzzing fly,
& bleating phalanx of sheep, led by rustic Croat
Whose rocks usher stray ewes & lamb back to the flock.
As the sheep disappear I resume my scrambling climb
Up this lizard-strewn gully to the stony summit, & feel
Some mighty wind thundering across a thousand islands.
LETTER FROM LORETO
O Sally if ye’d come to Italy,
Some honeyfly upon a Tuscan eve.
Beneath these happy stars we could conceive,
Join life-threads in a living tapestry;
Then to this Papal shrine our love I’ll lead,
Where Lord God’s salvific omnipotence
Shines thro’ this Black Madonna’s soft presence,
Where pleas of budding mothers angels heed.
How quiet are the walls of Nazareth
Beneath Maccari’s frescoed dome sublime,
Here let us two entwine our hearts, our breath
& ask for little life to bliss our time.
Where pinning sacred ribbon to thy breast
Our triduum, we hope, by dio blest!
Into Gagliole the ticker-train drew,
Scenes full of secrets fresh vistas renew,
Citta del molto chiase ahead
I have hope, I have wine, I have shoes, I have bread
& I have appetite!
Siamo amiche, Guiacarmo Leopardi,
Vedo la sua mura, gli archi e le colonne,
& belvedering bliss!
Where, desiring infinity in an astro mirabil,
Il pensier del presente do race & reel,
As amorose kiss!
As nationhood creates its native forms,
Into my mind new predeliction storms.
I was an eight-year-old Burnley boy when I wrote my first lines,
& the next lot would not come until Carlisle College ten years later;
So, full of song, I went to Barnsley, to leave a budding poetaster,
Perusing Byron under pines in the pleasant parks of Portsmouth,
From there I found the Silver Rose one glorious sunset over Portovenere,
To return a spirit dedicated to the ancyent art of poetry.
Explorations of my nation followed, all corners of England’s garden,
Finding myself directed by the driving lights of Calliope & Clio,
Who open’d up the sonneverse of grand sequanza galaxies,
Fourteen clusters of sequanzas each made up of fourteen stars,
Every stanza is a planet, every line is musical terraforma –
Twas strange to sense the harmonies between poetry & physics,
Epiphanies that paved the way for exhibitions of epic sonnetry,
Before tripping here to Tuscany to crown these youthful years.
Across the sheer Consuma Pass the Papal Guelfs did steer
To permeate the Poppi plain, the Ghibellines appear,
Noble Swabian lineage with rival war ensigns,
Amplified by Catenaian Alps & spangling Apennines;
The sun had risen muggy on Saint Barnabas’s day,
Where over Verna, Francis of Assisi’s hands did pray,
Dante Alighieri, far beyond his metaphors,
Stood in the first line of the Guelfs, the fearless Feditors,
Facing the dancing enemy, & yes he was afraid
Protected by Apollo many mortal parries made
As now the Pavesari wrap around the fading foe
Who drop their shields & fled the field, splashing thro’ the Arno,
The Guelfs did claim a victory & furthermore the pride
‘Come Dante,’ said Boccacio, ‘Let us to Florence ride!’
More tranquil than the murmour of a rose,
The piazzas of Pratovecchia,
Bethlehem-twinned, harbour a sweet repose,
Calm cluster shepherds call Casalino –
Here Dante mused upon his fifth canto,
For Paulo & Francesca tears did pour,
Mixing with the streamlings of the Arno,
Flowing to ev’ry Italian shore –
A place to set poesia in store,
Where sacred sisters break the ancyent bread,
There, summoned by the grunting of wild boar
Into a place where feet have seldom tread,
Not life nor history shall help mine art,
Just fragrant music of the valley-heart.
Pui tranquilo del mormorio della rosa, la piazza di Pratovecchia, Betlemme-gemellare, rifugio una villagio dolce, amosso calmo il pastori chiamato Casalino – Ecco Dante meditato il suo cante cinque, Lacrime versate per Paulo & Francesco, Mescolato con il fiumicello giovane del’Arno, Scorando a tutta la riva d’Italia – Un posto per consevara la poesia, Dove les suore sacreto spezzanno il pane antico, La, convoco presso il gruniri dei chingialo selvaggi, Dentro un bosco dove un piede ha calpestato raramente, Non vita ne storia auiteranno la mia arte, Solo musica fragrante del cuore delal valle.
As Dante found himself in some dark wood
My soul has been tormented since ye died
But holding back time’s tears, my weary flood!
I waited for your light to be my guide.
As Virgil took step with the Tuscan bard
Thro’ Hell’s inferno to the face Divine
I travel’d far & tho the way was charr’d
I climb’d a peak & waited for a sign.
About, the bells of church & cattle sound,
As I pursue the dry bed of a stream
My sad heart breaks! An ickle trickle found
Lit by the leafy sunbeam-dappl’d gleam.
These highest headwaters of the Arno
Scatter’d her ashes in the flashing flow.
D rawn to Florence I found myself alone,
A rch-festival, Savonorola’s fame
N umb’d parch’d senses, searching for quietude
T here came to me a lane & little church –
E scaping to the reign of Beatrix
A n apparition clad in priestly robes
L ed us to Vallombrossa’s skiey pines
I nstinctive, as when the Sacred Poet,
G od-adulating, mused to abbey-bells,
H oping for glory, since those soften’d strolls
I talians forever taste his tongue
E ’er tingling in his song-like harmony,
R oseate, or rising to royal pitch
I n sermons of Savonorolan flame!
A REPLY TO DANTE
I reckon it was not love that you saw
But manifested images of soul
For when a muse first to her care dost call
The bard, then rise dreams, vivacious & raw.
From vixen Beatrix such pictures draw,
That blazing heart, thine art set to install,
That weeping man, emotion’s pensive squall –
Then rave about these as is natural law.
Back when you ask’d us you were but a boy
Basking in your quattordici versi,
Probing excitedly for life’s answers.
In such love unrequited you found joy
Indulging in a world of phantasy
Not touchworthy realness of romances.
O sacred summit has it been so long
Since last we prosper’d high on clifftop tall,
The sea’s papparazi pleasing our song,
Late years on dovewings fall,
When only slender pocket-books of rhyme
Truth-honouring the passages of time.
I delve back thro’ this lovely life I chose,
When rennaissance poeticals renew,
These esoterics of a Silver Rose
Deft make me sigh!
Unto this place we drew
Thro’ all my twenties, as I linger here
The zephyrs of youth’s musings re-appear.