Sunset at Brattaggia

Sunset at Brattaggia

Solo l'amare, solo il conoscera conta --- Pier Paolo Pasolini

Original Text

Bruce Meyer, The Spirit Bride (Toronto: Exile Editions, 2002).

2    cut into the suede hillside where it clings
3like a memory to the earth's dirty sleeve,
4    is a place without history in a land
6    past, hard-bent for Latium, his heart
7mapping every rock cleft for a profile
9there would be enough victuals in store
10    as he marched past in the late hours
11one hot summer night, Rome on his mind.
12    Tiberius came ashore here on his yacht
13 but only to toss an astrologer from a cliff --
14     you can almost see the spot where the man
15 landed, his outstretched arm still pointing
17 needed time to collect his thoughts, the last
18     place on his mind was Brattaggia. You can
19 see it in the faces of the village's old men --
20     they have that look of someone waiting
21 to have a joke explained when nothing, indeed,
22     is funny. They are simply patient, like stone.
23 But even the stone, the very earth praised
25 is a matter of deception. It turns to powder
26     at a touch, carves easily but makes no
29 dreamed of a mannered paradise for show,
30     neither was thinking of Brattaggia, nor
31 of the slow motion of the waves washing
32     at the town's feet through sleepless summers
33 when the damp sea air stands still and salty
34     like Lot's wife, perspiring onionly, longing
37 and the silence is more encyclopaedic
38     than any memory of when or where or how.
39 Yet tonight I sit on a terrace in Brattaggia,
40     searching for lost lyrics in my heart beating
41 for a world that doesn't really give a damn.
42     I think that somewhere between this life
43 and Brattaggia there must be a simple bridge,
44     the bridge of being where one doesn't need
45 to pay the price of greatness in order to cross.
48     to my daughter. She counts the stars and wishes
49 I were home, though I am only words away
50     in a place so real that I can taste its age,
51 lost in the hard-earned antiquity of patience,
52     a lesson repeated over and over like song.
53 And so, it is soon night, I am far, far away,
54     as most of us are, from the things I love.
55 My head is filled with unfashionable thoughts,
56     with rhythms of the heart that leave one
57 lonely in the end. I stare at the silent steeple
58     crumbling under the weight of its own bell,
59 the sound of its voice calling out the lives
60     and measured moments of those it has known.
61 The tongue in my swollen head knows no better,
62     and its shadows in the moonlight breaking
63 over the sea like the heart that cannot go home
64     is a sign of patience. Someday, may the world
65 listen. And if it doesn't, remember Brattaggia,
66     the place no one ever mentioned until now.
67 Some diligent soul will research its history,
68     will question the craftsmanship of squared
69 clean lines, and long to understand its beauty;
70     that history is not merely just what happened
71 but the record of small things still possible
72     because they exist and are stronger than time.


1] "Only love, only to know / counts" ("Il pianto della scavatrice" [The Cry of the Digger]. Back to Line
5] Brattaggia: unlocated and not found on Google (November 18, 2012).
Aeneus: the hero of Virgil's epic Aeneid, about the founderof Rome. Back to Line
8] seven hills: those on which Rome would be founded.
Augustus (63 B.C.-14 AD), the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Back to Line
16] Marcus Aurelius: Roman Emperor, 161-180 AD. Back to Line
24] Vasari: Giorgio Vasari, Renaissance painter (1511-74).
Machiavelli: Niccola di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469-1527), Renaissance Italian historian and philosopher who lived in Florence, author of The Prince. Back to Line
27] Leonardo: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian polymath and artist. Back to Line
28] Fiorenza: Florence.
Castiglione: Baldassare Castiglione (1478–1529), Italian Renaissance writer and diplomat, author of The Courtier. Back to Line
35] Lot's wife turned to stone when she looked back on Sodom (Genesis 19). Back to Line
36] Baedeckers: popular travel guides. Back to Line
46] Seguso: possibly Toronto's Carling Bassett, now Bassett Seguso, a world-class tennis player who struggled with bulimia for years, but is now in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame; or the renowned the Venetian family associated with the production of fine glass since the 14th century.
    Back to Line
    47] brunello: an Italian red wine. Back to Line
    RPO poem Editors
    Ian Lancashire
    RPO Edition
    Special Copyright

    Copyright (c) Bruce Meyer. Printed by permission of the author. Any other use, including reproduction for any purposes, educational or otherwise, will require explicit written permission from the poet.