Via Portello

July 7, 2011

Nobody wants any more poems about… foreign cities.” ~ Mr Kingsley Amis

Rococo compositions of decay,
Each a still-life, the fruity garbag-heaps
Teem by themselves. A broad and cobbled way,
Tiepolo’s and Byron’s thoroughfare
Lies grand and empty in its sullied air,
And watches while the rest of Padua sleeps.

The conscious vista closed at either end,
Here by a palace, that way by a gate
At night pure Piranesi… Yes, my friend,
I know you have decided for your part
That poems on foreign cities and their art
Are the privileged classes’ shorthand. You must wait;

Or, traversing the colonnaded mile
Of this decayed locality, extend
The warmth of your resentment to the style
Of Padua’s poor. A civilisation broken
Around them, theirs; and want, and no word spoken —
The conscious vista closed at either end.

~ Donald Davie

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