Robert Charles Howard

Rookie - 346 Points (26 DEC 1943 / Wyandotte MI)

Vesuvius - Poem by Robert Charles Howard

(Plaster cast at Pompeii)

                [THE TOUR GUIDE]

                “Ladies and gentlemen, here we are at Pompeii's
                fabled Thermal Baths where heated water was
                passed through duct work in the walls. One can
                imagine Nero himself stopping here on one of
                his visits.”


Benito stepped out of the bathhouse and looked up.
Vesuvius rumbled - shaking ash and fire skyward.
Breaking into a run he sought the south road,
Glancing anxiously over his shoulder
At the vast dark cloud billowing down the mountain.

                'The principal roads through the city were recessed
                And wagons were required to have standardized
                wheelbases and clearances to fit in channels cut
                into the stone. Follow me please to the residential

He gained the road and his feet
Pounded the stones of the “via stabiana.”
The cloud multiplied and fell on the city.
Ever deepening layers of ash clogged Benito’s path.
Heart pounding in his chest he lengthened his strides.

                “Leaving the opulent villas with their spacious
                atria, we now enter the market area where we
                shall see a display of remarkable interest. During
                excavations, empty spaces were discovered in
                the ash deposits.”

The rising ash captured his left leg.
Benito inhaled the fiery air and thrust
Forward into a burst of falling soot.
But was unable to finish his stride.

                “Archaeologists poured plaster into the voids
                revealing the outlined bodies of Pompeiins trapped
                in their final moments. Take for example this man
                caught in mid-step with no time to escape the life
                choking dust.”

June, 2006

Comments about Vesuvius by Robert Charles Howard

  • (6/18/2008 10:26:00 PM)

    I am reminded of Robert Browning's dramatic soliloquies; like a true poet you have
    made an instant into eternity! Wonderful!
    - Raj Nandy
    New Delhi
    (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • (1/30/2008 9:22:00 AM)

    The other day I read this statement by the French philospher, Louis Bergson: 'Art has no other purpose than to brush aside...everything that veils reality from us in order to bring us face to face with reality itself.' Your poem certainly does this. Great work! (Report) Reply

  • Elysabeth Faslund (7/11/2007 3:12:00 PM)

    Dull, memorized words of the tour guide juxtaposed with one man's nightmare in reality. With millions of miles in between. Brilliant. Simply brilliant in the handling of this 'now' vs 'then'. If any reader is even vaguely curious about the reality of this powerful, almost epic rendition, of what occurred on the day this volcano changed Roman life. xxElysabeth (Report) Reply

  • Frank James Ryan Jr...fjr (2/4/2007 3:54:00 PM)

    Awesome graphical construction....Inventive and literarily tantilizing to the minds-eye..Superior work here, Robert...Bravo!

    ~ F. j. R. ~
    (Report) Reply

  • (10/12/2006 10:38:00 AM)

    My gosh, Robert, this captures the imagination and the viscera all at once! We think alike in these things: history is NOT dead. Real beings suffered the questions, the fear, the final suffering... I was there, years ago on a quiet day, and the place is alive with unknown memory. Thank you for writing this affecting piece. Esther (Report) Reply

  • (9/9/2006 4:27:00 AM)

    Howard, This poem very cleverly juxtaposes the dry 'historical' tour guide rendition of the dramatic explosion against the earth-bound reality of a real man running for his life to great dramatic effect. Tell me - is this the libretto for an opera? love, Allie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Report) Reply

  • (7/25/2006 4:25:00 AM)

    It is a different poem. Interesting

    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Poem Edited: Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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