Then flash and blink
Like broken bits of tesserae
O NEON LIT TRAVELLER IN TIME:
STAND STILL AND WATCH THE MIME.
Gondoliers’ oars stir
Into green molten glass
Whose wavelets lap antiphonally
Smooth marble steps.
Sapphires and emeralds,
Pearls, rubies and gold,
Filigreed arches of pale pink stones
Enhanced by columns of Byzantine tones.
Lines of laundry looped in swags,
Garbage and treasure, all in a measure,
Facets of the gross and sublime.
O SMELL OF THE WATER AND GASOLINE VAPOR.
BE SILENT UNTIL WE FINISH THIS CAPER.
Angels on bridges look with hope
For the great bronze horses
To escape from San Marco,
While spectres of revelers from centuries past-
Masked marionettes dancing in faded frescos-
Stare, frozen in the damask darkness of derelict palazzos.
WHAT OF THIS JOURNEY TO THE PAST:
DID YOU REALLY THINK ALL OF THIS WOULD LAST?
Below, the sea, turquoise and jade,
Above, the cobalt dome of spirit-filled air.
Venice, in blue and white spirals,
In gold and in jewels:
A shell of the past, a city of the sea.
Save for the stone, it would slip
Into sea foam and sand,
Erased from sense, erased from all that we did see.
“AND NOW ARE ALL 0UR REVELS ENDED,”
AND ALL THIS, HAS TO PAINTING TENDED.
Poem and Painting by Peter Stilton, 1995