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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,

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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,

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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 –

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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,

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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,

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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,

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