"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words. " ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Two Poems for Bastille Day

A HOUSE WHERE ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS
The Acqua Claudia, built between 38 - 52 AD

"All right . . . all right . . . but apart from better sanitation
and medicine and education and irrigation and public health
and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order . . .
what have the Romans done for us?"

"Brought peace!"


From Monty Python's Life of Brian

********************
The Fall of Rome
(for Cyril Connolly)

The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar's double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK
On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.

1947
W. H. Auden

"Altogether elsewhere . . . "

Four Preludes
On Playthings of the Wind


1
The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.

2
The doors were cedar
and the panel strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us every was.
The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

Rainy Day at the Colosseum

3
It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
... and the only listeners left now
... are ... the rats .. and the lizards.

And there are black crows
crying, "Caw, caw,"
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The only singers now are crows crying, "Caw, caw,"
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are ... the rats ... and the lizards.

~ "the orange dot marks the trail" ~

4
The feet of the rats
scribble on the doorsills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a doorsill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.


1926
Carl Sandburg

Via Scala
All photos of Rome and environs taken by Ben McCartney
~ Summer 2012 ~

SEE YOU IN TWO WEEKS FOR MY
Next Fortnightly Post
Sunday, July 28th

Between now and then, read
THE QUOTIDIAN KIT
my shorter, almost daily blog posts
www.dailykitticarriker.blogspot.com


Currently featuring photographs from Paris
by Steven La Vigne

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