Art with an edge

Nice piece about a trip to the Centro Storico and the beautiful Cappella Sansevero.

The Phraser

DSC01678I love art – not in an expert way, just in a ‘this amazes me’ way.  Two weeks ago we visited a statue that seemed to have barely stopped breathing – ‘The Veiled Christ’ in the Museo Cappella Sansevero in Naples, Italy.

It was a mini Indiana Jones of an event.

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Napoli: A poem for Sunday

The boat was beating across the bay,
we had our backs to Vesuvius,
the wind smacked our faces.
Naples was an enormous packet of cigarettes
you could smoke till you conked out:
the cigarettes were never going to run out
and nor was the coffee, the drugs,
the prostitutes, the locked churches,
the scooters, the rice cakes, the evil eye,
the boys called Gennaro, the funiculars,
the shrines to Madonna, the shrines
to Maradona, the bullet holes, the heat,
the permanent state of crucifixion.
Anyone could be crucified two thousand
years ago but to be crucified now,
to be crucified in Napoli — lift me up!

By Julian Standard.  Source: Poetry (October 2014).  Photo via Panoramio Luca Terracciano

The Last Days of Pompeii?

I was at Pompeii again with friends yesterday, for perhaps the 5th time over the last two years.  In the late autumn sunshine, the ruins were as wonderful and evocative as ever.  The administration of the site remains dysfunctional.

To be confronted, at 10 o’clock in the morning at the main entrance to a UNESCO world heritage site visited by 2.5 million people per year, with scribbled signs proclaiming ‘No maps’ was shocking, even by Italian standards.

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Wednesday Italian Poem: L’Infinito (1819)

Giacomo Leopardi was an essayist, philosopher, and philologist and, to many, the greatest Italian poet since Dante.  His finest work, L’Infinito (The Infinite – 1819), is short, of only four complete sentences, wistful, contemplative and profound.  The narrator compares the immensity, the ‘unending spaces’ and ‘endless stillness’ of the universe with his own, prosaic surroundings.

This lonely hill was always dear to me,
and this hedgerow, which cuts off the view
of so much of the last horizon.

But sitting here and gazing, I can see
beyond, in my mind’s eye, unending spaces,
and superhuman silences, and depthless calm,
till what I feel is almost fear.

And when I hear the wind stir in these branches, I begin
comparing that endless stillness with this noise:
and the eternal comes to mind,
and the dead seasons, and the present
living one, and how it sounds.

So my mind sinks in this immensity:
and floundering is sweet in such a sea.

Translated by Jonathan Galassi.  Photo: NASA/ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team