Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mediterranean pictures – images of the sea, its islands & ports:
Travel Journals, poems & notes

Roma – 5-6.VIII.12

I. The rose petal that literally floated down
at my fingertips beside Santa Maria Maggiore
on this festival day of the Madonna della Neve [Snow]
where thousands of rose petals represent
this annually commemorated miracle of snow…

II. La Porta Magica
An eccentric
enigmatic gift
a surprise
a mystery
only one who
unlocks the crypt
and is worthy
to enter may do so…

Massimiliano Palombara (1614-1680)
the “magic gate” and its “monstrous dwarves” (the Egyptian demigod Bes)
hieroglyphs, gods and Rosicrucian mysteries…Serendipity alert! Abydos=V

III. Visiting Keats & Shelley at the “Protestant Cemetery” (Acatolico) and walking the Aventine hill at the border of ruins – a blessedly quiet corner of the Eternal City

Noting we are honoring Percy Bysshe 220 years & 2 days after his birth on 4.VIII.1792 – Noting the nameless grave “of one whose name was writ on water” and did not live to see 30 years…

Blessing the “little friends of the departed” – the cats that tend the tombstones of foreign visitors who died or wished to be buried in Rome –

At the graves of Shelley & Keats
whose names are writ on water
and carved in stone & etched
into hearts through the rich and
strange music of poetry
since each suffered the change
of a too-early called curtain…

Shelley’s tempest-tossed “Vision of the Sea” and his tempestuous life & death
and the lines from Ariel’s eerie song in The Tempest –
Keats eccentric unconventional sonnet “On the Sea” [ABBA ABBA CDEDEC]

6.VIII.12 – on board Corinthian II, towards Agropoli

I. Glad to be alive
since the vampire
didn’t get me
and the distempered
security guard didn’t
shoot me when
I shouted back
(he reached for his gun
and my pupils dilated)
And now we’re at sea
and rocking lulling sailing
along the mythic Tyrrhenian
coast heading towards
Scylla & Charybdis…

(15th c. Italian fresco of Scylla & Charybdis)

7.VIII/Paestum [Hardy: I will build up a temple / And set you therein / As its shrine]

I. The 3 Temenos of Doric columned Temples to Hera/Juno and Zeus (or Apollo or Athena/Minerva) – the pomegranate symbol of life and its fertile seeds – and the shadow side – Persephone/Proserpina and “the pomegranate seeds of death…” [E. Sitwell]
still standing from the 6th and 5th centuries bce.

Paestum from Poseidonia [=Neptune]
Die Götter Griechenlands = snapshot of the ancient world
and the fragmented ruins that remain

The hooting doves and cawing birds around the ruins – a soaring hawk –
Jupiter or Apollo watching over what remains?
A lizard scurrying down a Doric column of Juno – one of her ensigns?

The remains of an underwater labyrinth – an aquatic game or contest?
Honey perfectly preserved in vases for 2,000 years – symbol of immortality…

Sono sacra all Ninfa = I am sacred to the Nymph etched on a vase from Huroon…

The elevated temple to Athena/Minerva – symbol of the highest point = Acropolis…

Inscription to Chirone the Centaur, expert in medicinal arts (magic & alchemy…)

Painted tomb of the Diver (metaphor for the crossing over of death –
like Hercules crossing over the pillars of Gibraltar…)

The Aulos [flute] & Lyra del carapace di Tortuga (the tortoise shell lyre)

8.VIII/Naxos Bay – Taormina, Sicily: A modern Odyssey….

I. At the Naxos Bay Lido
around the corner from the
fabled Strait of Messina
which brought us Scylla
& Charybdis Odyssey-inspired
Dreamworld adventures as if
on cue – our Dreamquest
involved transmigrational journeys,
perils, friendships tested and
broken, extreme risk and life-
threatening danger and one
blissful (however bizarre) romantic
encounter with a muse (or siren) to
relieve the stress & strain of the journey,
its storms and toils and surreal
homecoming – less valedictory
than the welcome release of laughter –
a blessed relief…

II. The rocks here at the Lido –
were they the same from which
Ariadne kept watch for a sign
for the return of Theseus?
Was she on this shore
when Bacchus appeared as
if out of the air
to ravish her famished being?

III. Where Scylla once hid
her hideously enchanting
voraciously hungry sextet of heads
there now stands a gaudy
lighthouse whose purple and red
fluorescent lights punctuate the strait
marking a place of mythological
conflict with post-modern kitsch

IV. Instead of vanishing
in the perfect storm
of Charybdis’ whirlpool
the Corinthian slowed to a crawl,
rocked to and fro
and passed uneventfully through…

9.VIII.12/Monopoli – Alberobello [Trulli “world heritage” village]

I. The beautiful snow-white beehive conical houses
of the Unesco World Heritage site of Trulli villages –
the only Trulli Church in the world: Parrochia Sant’Antonio di Padua
(did Mahler know this town?)

The alchemical process of rainwater reacting with the porous white stones
to create a sprawling system of grottoes and caves in the region of Castellano –

The centuries old Olive trees in the Apulia region
(500-800 years old and still fruitful!)

Monopoli – from Monos Polis = a unique city –
founded during the Homeric age – 8th c. b.c.e.
The city of Brindisi – we’ll all drink to that (“and one for Mahler!”)
The 1958 hit Volare – inspired by the azure Adriatic

11.VIII.12/ Dubrovnik – Amy’s bday

I. Byron dubbed Dubrovnik “the pearl of the Adriatic” and it is still true –
George Gordon lyric of the day:
She walks in beauty like the night / Of cloudless skies & starry climes;
And all that is best and fair / Meet in her aspect and her eyes.

II. In Poems of the Sea (bought for Amy’s bday in 2009) our Byronic hero himself is in the Mediterranean vis-à-vis Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:
Roll on, though deep and dark blue Ocean – roll!
…Man marks the earth with ruin – his control / Stops with the shore…
He winks into thy depths with bubbling groan
Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoffin’d, and unknown [foreshadows of Hardy]
And howling, to his gods, where haply lies
His pretty hope in some near port or bay, …
Thou glorious mirror…
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime –
The image of eternity – the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

And I have loved thee, Ocean! …
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane – as I do here.

12.VIII.12/Korcula – home of Marco Polo

I. Another "Island of exception" [N.B: Holly Case's engaging lectures on Pirates and Islands, respectively] in the enchanting Adriatic – luxe, calme & volupte – cool & cleansing water – if not so calm this day (great for windsurfing!) still a perfect spot to stop, relax, luxuriate and simply be…

II. Another esoteric Rosicrucian connection: Magister Marcus Andree
Marko Andrijic (14?-1507): master mason & builder of the St Mark’s
Venetian inspired cathedral tower – More Serendipity: Porta Magica, Abydos & Venetian mysteries (Isle of Dead, Gargoyles & Ghosts & Myths…)

III. The fantastic artistic details in the architecture – insignias, crests, plaques, reliefs, columns and cryptic inscriptions abound – the half-broken round window that shows fragments of a cross or grail chalice, and two arms of a star of two points of a compass (or another Masonic instrument…)

IV. Eliot Cohen’s outstanding lecture: A Dangerous Gift: Advising the Sec. of State

Great quotes on leadership and power, impossible decisions & inevitable failure:

Authority without responsibility:
the prerogative of the harlot throughout history
(former British Prime Minister)

It is always difficult to give advice,
even from the wise to the wise,
and all courses may run ill
(Gildor the Elf, to Frodo)

You can “speak truth to power” only when power is ready to listen…
(Experience has taught us the harsh verity of that truism!)

All political lives end in failure…

The Talmudic story of the 4 Rabbis in the Orchard
[= metaphor for philosophy or mysticism or faith itself]
1 died within; 1 went mad; 1 lost his faith and only 1 came out in peace –
Shalom = peace, and has the same root as the word “whole” –
thus the only 1 who entered in/with peace emerged in 1 piece…

(A memorial plaque to Jewish martyrs in Venice's Old Ghetto)

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