Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

You are viewing Poetry

ACCADEMIA BRIDGE

Although elsewhere they must compete with tall men

from Senegal selling faux Gucchi bags

and middle aged Roma women hunched like

supplicants as they beg with their cardboard cups,

short, slight Bangladeshi men of all ages

have cornered the market, on the always

crowded bridge, with selfie sticks, lovers’ locks

that illegally litter the rails, and a cache

of small umbrellas for wet, cruising tourists.

 

South is the church of La Salute with its

whorls, bell towers,

share

CITY OF ART

There are the Biennale’s Big Beasts, of course –

this year David Hockney’s ’82 Portraits

and 1 Still Life’ at the Ca’ Pesaro (each

painted in three days) and, at Palazzo

Grassi and Punta Della Dogana,

Damien Hirst’s ‘Treasures from the Wreck

of the Unbelievable’, which took ten years –

the pavilions in the Giardini

and the Arsenale; the freebies

in rented palaces and tenements.

 

And there are the abiding grand masters,

the Titians, Tinterettos,

share

FRUITS OF THE SEA

On the island of Burano, where women,

sitting at their front doors for the light, make lace

and men fish in the lagoon, and houses

are painted the profound colours of sun and sea,

there is a family owned restaurant

Da Romano (opposite the headquarters

of the Communist Party) whose first owner

encouraged those painters rejected

for the first Biennale to hang their work

on his walls – since when artists of all kinds

have come: Miro, for example, Matisse,

share

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,

share

LA FENICE

At Punta Della Dogana, a cellist

seated under the arcade, is playing

melodies from operatic arias.

It is early evening. A fog horn sounds.

A cruise ship is sailing for Dubrovnik.

With a tug at the bows to pull, one to steer

at the stern, The Queen Elizabeth –

its superstructure higher than St Mark’s

Campanile, moves slowly toward us

through the Giudecca canal. Passengers,

silhouettes on the top deck, look down

on the packed, diverse crowds jostling along

the Riva Degli Schiavoni,

share

O BRAVE NEW WORLD!

On the third floor of Ca’ Rezzonico –

where gondoliers slept when the palazzo

was let to the song writer Cole Porter –

is Egidio Martini’s collection

of five centuries of Venetian art.

Three of the floors’ small windows survive,

each an intentional belvedere.

Two view the Grand Canal, the third south west.

The eye follows the perspective below:

a canal and its quay with inevitable

eclectic craft, stone bridges and turisti;

then tenements and the terracotta tiles –

share

THE FISH MARKET

The hand holds so much power – the power to love, to hate, to create, to destroy.’ SUPPORT, Lorenzo Quinn

 

The resin and fibreglass installation

of one of the sculptor’s small children’s

hands and wrists emerges from the Grand Canal

many times life size and startlingly white

to brace the rose Ca’ Sagredo Hotel –

once a palace where Galileo stayed –

as if to prevent its imminent collapse.

 

When we arrive on the opposite bank

so you can take photographs the market

has closed,

share

THE GHETTO

We came here more than twenty five years ago

but know when we reach the Trei Archi bridge

we have gone too far and turn. (Distracted by

a young black man begging with a baseball cap

we had walked passed the sottoporto

where the curfew gates had been). We see

a man in a keppel show the entrance

to his children. Inside the Old Ghetto now

are information points, and a café

and a restaurant with kosher options.

In the New Ghetto’s spacious campo

are more eateries,

share

THE GULLS OF VENICE

‘Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know in life.

THE STONES OF VENICE John Ruskin

 

Many things are forbidden in Venice:

sitting on the steps in St Mark’s Square;

hailing water taxis from water bus pontoons;

putting out food waste except on the hook

provided between the designated hours

in order to deter gabbiani;

of which there are two species, compatriots,

the black-headed gull and the herring gull,

comune and reale respectively,

share

THE LAGOON

Like most houses over centuries here

this one has been divided. What was its

courtyard is part of a private gallery.

A vine, planted in the yard – perhaps

in the island’s original earth before

alder pilings made the city’s foundations –

has thickened, grown on top of a wall,

almost hiding the broken bottles

embedded in cement, and then up

to our third floor balcony, covering

the pergola. The grapes are pearly small, sweet.

 

There is no dulling roar to baffle sounds.

share