In Santa Croce with No Baedeker

Because the shadow always follows
we came wanting—or say, searching
for the contest wider and deeper
than the shallow rut we had worn,
that transitory quest. How deep
is the spring beneath the rubbish
that cumbers the world, puzzling
universe whose parts won’t fit
but over and again flings out
volcanic bits? (How they fall in
those old mosaics and we find them
not enough.)

Knowledge does not avail, nor does spirit
avail. Let us spread our thoughts
in the Tuscan sunlight and let them shrivel
for all they’re worth.

Yet here for the space between breath
and starshine we find peace: the lift
of a saint’s eyes, drape of marble mantle,
a row of ragged cypress on a golden hill;
the glowing coals we nurture
but can neither describe
nor explain, these priceless
works, our souls.


I am reading (again again) E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View and of course stole the poem’s title and many phrases therefrom. Wonderful book, always makes me think and naturally dream of Florence, which I will be visiting in less than a fortnight!