Heated red-hot in honor of the Centennial Year
I cannot go to Italy without becoming immersed in a sense of the past. It is not that the present is lacking. But the whole country is like the city of Rome itself: a building and rebuilding on the rubble of other generations; a remodeling and adapting of whatever remains usable. Time does not begin or end. Rather it is a constant flow, so that the 20th century monument to Victor Emmanuel and the 1st century arch of Titus can view one another over the remains of the imperial fora and both feel at home.
Add to that bus tours, giving time to meditate on such things, and a few writings are sure to emerge.
A Rivederci, Roma:
Lines for Summer Tourists Who Have Seen or Read Things That Bother Them
Lament not, gentle hearts, apartment houses,
Graffiti, litter, scabrous, cracked cement;
Nor think some Caesar strolling down a Via.
Would wonder when and where his Roma went.
For Rome was always crowded, hot and dirty,
Its tenements collapsed, its fountains failed,
The traffic clogged its streets beyond endurance,
Its muggers plied their trade and few were jailed
The poor received their welfare bread and circus.
The wealthy fled to villas on a hill,
But no one ever left the place forever:
There’s something holds the heart and always will.
In the Po Valley flood irrigation is practiced today as it was 2000 years ago when the young Virgil worked on his father’s farm.
“Claudite iam rivos, pueri: sat prata biberunt.” – From Virgil’s Bucolics no. 3, 1. 111
It is as though
All time has here stood still to watch awhile
The river flow
Through ancient channels, out across the earth
To wake from sleep
The rows of slender trees, the golden flowers,
The seeds that keep
Resurgent, everlasting life within,
And die to rise.
A farmer moves along the dike. Once more
The poet cries,
“Close off the streams: the fields have drunk enough.”
“I wish to be a Dictator,” Caesar said,
“But that requires crises on ahead.”
So he spread the rumor around,
And got the job to strike the traitors dead.
“I still would be Dictator,” Caesar said,
“But even Romans tire of blood, much shed.”
So he started tales of dangers
Due to vague, but vicious, strangers,
And was named to track them down and strike them dead.
“I like to be Dictator,” Caesar said,
“But the strangers I invented all have fled.”
So he leaked the news disorders
Were rampant on the borders.
And was asked to strike the Empire haters dead.
At last it dawned on those who used the head.
The peril didn’t lie where Caesar said.
His endless lust for pow’r
Was the evil of the hour.
So they sharpened up their knives and struck him dead.
Which proves, if proving things is to your liking,
In Italy they settle things by striking.
We know. Our flight to Rome was delayed 24 hours by a strike of all Italian airports. Museums closed hours early. No menu choices: cooks on strike.
Technology – Caveat Emptor
You like Venetian glass but find it most expensive?
I can get it for you cheaper (in plastic).
You’re fond of Roman purses but you think the charge extensive?
I can get one for your cheaper (in plastic).
The chairs you want in Spanish leather cost too much?
I can get them for you cheaper (in plastic).
You like French wines, liqueurs, at prices you can’t touch?
Forget it. Whatever they may taste like, they ain’t made of plastic.
Mountain Farm, Northern Italy
Oh, yes, you might say life is work –
Thin soil, the pastures small.
A terraced slope carved out and held
By rows of rock-lined wall.
But lonely? No, I’d never say
I find it lonely here.
Streams laugh, birds call, from hill and sky
God whispers in my ear.
This issue represents the joint efforts of Louise Lincoln and A. Walrus at
Tucson, Arizona 85710 and Alf Babcock at the press.
Second Edition (P.O. lost the first)