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GRANDE HÔTEL DES BAINS

‘A camera on a tripod stood at the edge of the water, apparently abandoned; its black cloth snapped in the freshening wind.’

DEATH IN VENICE Thomas Mann

 

…Cholera is no longer a rumour.

Besotted, face rouged, hair dyed, he dies

staring unseeing at the shallow sea.

Artifice, made and re-made, fades in the rain,

like the islands with their ‘gorgeous palaces’…

 

Near the Palazzo del Cinema –

where, annually, insubstantial

figures, louder than life, larger, love

and loathe, kill and die in the watching dark –

along the Lido’s Adriatic shore

is the empty Grande Hôtel Des Bains,

gates locked, windows shuttered, paint flaking.

 

On the hotel’s liveried vaporetto,

Thomas and Katia Mann took their friend,

Gustav Mahler, across the lagoon,

past St Marks, along the Grand Canal

to Santa Lucia station. He wept

as he boarded the train for Vienna.

He had seen Tadzio.

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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