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Tag Archives amphitheatre


At once a voice arose among

      The bleak twigs overhead

In a full-hearted evensong

      Of joy illimited…

The Darkling Thrush, Thomas Hardy


I was standing at our front gate at twilight

with the people I love the most – wife,

daughter, granddaughter, each of them by turns

gossiping and bantering the way

some families do – beneath low, stormy clouds

still blush tinged from the westering sun

when we heard goose cries as if from all

compass points,



Where part of the back wall of the scena

of the Greco-Roman amphitheatre

has collapsed, we can see the sun setting

on Etna, its smoke drifting like a veil

over the sea. The town’s orchestra –

of mandolins, lutes, guitars, double bass –

with its plangent, sentimental, heart-

rending timbre plays the prelude to act one

of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata’…


We saw the opera at the Bolshoi –

with its gilt chairs and the Romanov box

with the hammer and the sickle above –