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Tag Archives baroque


In the gardens of the Premier’s palace

with its white Baroque facade there are

children’s swings and a red roundabout.

The linden trees the old Archduke planted

though leafless are evergreen with outbursts,

festoons of mistletoe, their berries

opalescent in the gentle wintry light.

A dozen or so mistle thrushes graze

amongst the leaf mould and peck in the branches –

but one, perched at the top of a tree, sings

its trilling, boundless, woodwind airs as if all

of the provinces were quiet and listening.



The Tiber’s olive waters curve past

Umbertide or, rather, the town curves

to the river in this limpid valley

alive with oak trees, willows, poplars

and millennia of settlements,

monuments – Etruscan, Roman, Lombard.


To impede the German’s retreat northwards,

the Allies bombed the bridge across the river

successfully and, collaterally,

razed a block of tall, narrow houses –

and many of their inhabitants.


The house numbers are brass inlaid in the setts

of what is now a car park in this

medieval town with its Via Papa

Giovanni XXIII,



After the reading, we strolled down Brownlow Hill

for a Guinness and a chaser at The Vines

next to The Adelphi on Lime Street –

a Walker’s pub in Edwardian baroque.

The westering sun lit the stained glass windows.


We were both young men then. He had been married

the year before. I would be married

later that year. His first book had been published

by Faber and Karl Miller’s prescient review

seemed genuinely to bemuse and amuse him.