I really like Italy. It’s a disorganized, old, and new place – but one with great food and wine. Just be aware that the trains and buses don’t always run on Sundays. If you can learn a little Italian, then you can get around without too many problems.
These pictures are from Gaeta. I skipped out one afternoon from a scientific meeting to clear my head head and get some fresh air.
This looks like an oil tank, but is a Roman tomb.
Since I didn’t have a map, I took a picture from one of the signs.
When the dawn unfolds like a bolt of ribbon
Thrown through my window,
I know that hours of light
Are about to thrust themselves into me
Like omnivorous needles into listless cloth,
Threaded with the heavy colours of the sun.
They seem altogether too eager,
To embroider this thing of mine,
Into the strict patterns of an altar cloth;
Or at least to stitch it into a useful garment.
But I know they will do nothing of the kind.
They will prick away,
And when they are through with it
It will look like the patch quilt my grandmother made
When she was learning to sew.
Ms. Hall (1886-1924) is a surprisingly modern poet.
Sunrise at Cumberland Island
(c) 2011 Robert W Harrison
James Weldon Johnson
Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
I softly sing.
And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
And sing, and sing.
I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
And I can sing.
Cranes in flight
(c) 2015 Robert W Harrison
Emily Chubbuck Judson
Thy brow is girt, thy robe with gems inwove;
And palaces of frost-work, on the eye,
Flash out, and gleam in every gorgeous dye,
The pencil, dipped in glorious things above,
Can bring to earth. Oh, thou art passing fair!
But cold and cheerless as the heart of death,
Without one warm, free pulse, one softening breath,
One soothing whisper for the ear of Care.
Fortune too has her Winter. In the Spring,
We watch the bud of promise; and the flower
Looks out upon us at the Summer hour;
And Autumn days the blessed harvest bring;
Then comes the reign of jewels rare, and gold,
When brows flash light, but hearts grow strangely cold
“Sonnet to Winter” was published in Judson’s book Alderbrook (W. D. Ticknor and company, 1847).
Waterfall in Cloudland Canyon
(c) 2015 Robert W Harrison
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Knows how to forget!
But could It teach it?
Easiest of Arts, they say
When one learn how
Dull Hearts have died
In the Acquisition
Sacrificed for Science
Is common, though, now —
I went to School
But was not wiser
Globe did not teach it
Nor Logarithm Show
“How to forget”!
Say — some — Philosopher!
Ah, to be erudite
Enough to know!
Is it in a Book?
So, I could buy it —
Is it like a Planet?
Telescopes would know —
If it be invention
It must have a Patent.
Rabbi of the Wise Book
Don’t you know?
A barge fading away, one of many sunk to preserve the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. Purton UK
image (c) 2015 Robert W Harrison
Most sweet it is with unuplifted eyes
To pace the ground, if path be there or none,
While a fair region round the traveller lies
Which he forbears again to look upon;
Pleased rather with some soft ideal scene,
The work of Fancy, or some happy tone
Of meditation, slipping in between
The beauty coming and the beauty gone.
If Thought and Love desert us from that day,
Let us break off all commerce with the Muse:
With Thought and Love companions of our way,
Whate’er the senses take or may refuse,
The Mind’s internal heaven shall shed her dews
Of inspiration on the humblest lay.
Blood Mountain Wilderness
(c) 2008 Robert W Harrison. (accept no substitutes)
“In the winter dusk
When the pavements were gleaming with rain,
I walked thru a dingy street
Thinking of all my problems that never are solved.
Suddenly out of the mist, a flaring gas-jet
Shone from a huddled shop.
I saw thru the bleary window
A mass of playthings:
False-faces hung on strings,
Valentines, paper and tinsel,
Tops of scarlet and green,
Candy, marbles, jacks—
A confusion of color
Pathetically gaudy and cheap.
All of my boyhood
Once more these things were treasures
With covetous eyes I looked again at the marbles,
The precious agates, the pee-wees, the chinies—
Then I passed on.
In the winter dusk,
The pavements were gleaming with rain;
There in the lighted window
I left my boyhood.”
William Carlos Williams
Vast and gray, the sky
is a simulacrum
to all but him whose days
are vast and gray, and—
In the tall, dried grasses
a goat stirs
with nozzle searching the ground.
—my head is in the air
but who am I…?
And amazed my heart leaps
at the thought of love
vast and gray
yearning silently over me.
Cranes in a cotton field near Centre.
(c) 2015 Robert Harrison
Lizette Woodworth Reese
The east is yellow as a daffodil.
Three steeples—three stark swarthy arms—are thrust
Up from the town. The gnarlèd poplars thrill
Down the long street in some keen salty gust—
Straight from the sea and all the sailing ships—
Turn white, black, white again, with noises sweet
And swift. Back to the night the last star slips.
High up the air is motionless, a sheet
Of light. The east grows yellower apace,
And trembles: then, once more, and suddenly,
The salt wind blows, and in that moment’s space
Flame roofs, and poplar-tops, and steeples three;
From out the mist that wraps the river-ways,
The little boats, like torches, start ablaze.
The sunrise from the tooth of time
(c) 2008 Robert W Harrison