Robert Francis

(August 12, 1901 - July 13, 1987 / Pennsylvania / United States)

Thoreau in Italy


Lingo of birds was easier than lingo of peasants-
they were elusive, though, the birds, for excellent reasons.
He thought of Virgil, Virgil who wasn't there to chat with.

History he never forgave for letting Latin
lapse into Italian, a renegade jabbering
musical enough but not enough to call music

So he conversed with stones, imperial and papal.
Even the preposterous popes he could condone
a moment for the clean arrogance of their inscriptions.

He asked the Italians only to leave him in the past
alone, but this was what they emphatically never did.
Being the present, they never ceased to celebrate it.

Something was always brushing him on the street, satyr
or saint-impossible to say which the more foreign.
At home he was called touchy; here he knew he was.

Impossible to say. The dazzling nude with sex
lovingly displayed like carven fruit, the black
robe sweeping a holy and unholy dust.

Always the flesh whether to lacerate of kiss-
Conspiracy of fauns and clerics smiling back
and forth at each other acquiescently through leaves.

Caught between wan monastic mountains wearing the tonsure
and the all-siren, ever-dimpling sea, he saw
(how could he fail?) at heart geography to blame.

So home to Concord where (as he might have known he would)
he found the Italy he wanted to remember.
Why had he sailed if not for the savour of returning?

An Italy distilled of all extreme, conflict,
Collusion-an Italy without the Italians-
in whose green context he could con again his Virgil.


In cedar he read cypress, in the wild apple, olive.
His hills would stand up favorably to the hills of Rome.
His arrowheads could hold their own with are Etruscan.

And Walden clearly was his Mediterranean
whose infinite colors were his picture gallery.
How far his little boat transported him-how far.

He coughed discreetly and we likewise coughed;
we waited and we heard him clear his throat.

How to be perfect prisoners of the past
this was the thing but now he too is past.

Shall we go sit beside the Mississippi
and watch the riffraft driftwood floating by?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

What do you think this poem is about?



Read poems about / on: history, home, music, kiss, remember, green, sea, alone, smile

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Thoreau in Italy by Robert Francis )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. At Nights, Madrason writer
  2. Trajectorya ng masuyong hampas-lupa, Sonny San Juan, Jr.
  3. falling down a well; well, you pushed me, Mandolyn ...
  4. Indeed, george albot
  5. Poets, Do You Agree?, Sandra Feldman
  6. broad boy souffle, derrick foster
  7. PH: Nature: Canoeing The Mississippi - P.., Brian Johnston
  8. Steps Of Purpose, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  9. Whispers Of Ancient Parables, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
  10. Unanswerable 3, Frank Avon

Poem of the Day

poet Sir John Suckling

Dost see how unregarded now
That piece of beauty passes?
There was a time when I did vow
To that alone;
But mark the fate of faces;
...... Read complete »

 

Modern Poem

poet Elizabeth Bishop

 

Member Poem

Trending Poems

  1. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  2. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  3. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  4. Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
  5. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  7. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  8. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  9. Sonnet I, Sir John Suckling
  10. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

Trending Poets

[Hata Bildir]