Saturday, 2 February 2013


The Most Serene Republic of Venice

Plagues of oars came to found you.
Fear and skill combined with the sea
To raise a haven from the wars:
The safe, the beautiful and the free.

Buildings grew up to ground you.
First huts on stakes, near boats;
Then palaces, churches, everything proud
To show off the state that floats.

Men and metal tried to sound you
Amidst gold's shimmer and lagoon mist;
But you brought the noise to them.
So the world feared St Mark's wrist.

Monarch and pope wished to hound you:
Partly for your soul, mostly for your lands.
Despite all your markets, thought was free.
You rode all anger, trusting in salty hands.

Pride came to abound in you,
As houses sank behind the paint.
Pageants joined gambling on the water,
While the life of trade grew faint.

Then came one to astound you.
Rip up the rotten materials, fallen minds
And take half the world with him:
Those who cheer as the Republic unwinds.

Now many eyes grow round you,
So weary of sight and of sea.
The tide is now against the city;
A final veil for its finery.

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