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So many colonisers here in this

terra amara, this bitter land –

from Ancient Greece to Bourbon Spain,

from Ancient Rome to Scandinavia,

from the Caliphate to Swabia – fitting

therefore that our cable car cabin

should be muti-lingual, each of us

keeping our space, averting our eyes.


As we descend from Via Luigi

Pirandello to Isola Bella,

past terraces with sun loungers, over

the Campo Sportivo and the tangled

scrub in the gorge, we hear suddenly

from the air itself it seems, from nowhere,

the first bars of ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ –

those fateful sisters who will choose the half,

in battle, that shall be killed, the half that live.


There is a confident flurry of amused

Nordic voices: ‘Er vi i himmelen?’

(Are we in heaven?) ‘Eller helvede?’

(Or hell?) You whisper, ‘The Vikings are back!’




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Howard Gardener
    September 29, 2014

    Almost bittersweet – great.

  • Mary Clark
    May 28, 2019

    This is a striking evocation of how socio-political history plays down the centuries, affecting our lives, and our personal past (including the cultural memory of songs and tales) and our present converge, to create an intense experience of perspective, this one filled with fury, longing, dread, and appreciation. Beautiful.

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