Monday, March 26, 2007

More From Latin Rob

At least this time he's had the sense to email me, so I can paste it straight into the blog.
I've edited out the first bit where he berates me for accuately transcribing his spelling mistakes on that napkin (some folks are never satisfied). Suffice to say that he's recalled some more of his day in ancient Rome (from now on, AR).
He was walking through the market in AR, when a messenger ran up to him - suspiciously not out of breath, no dust on his sandles - and thrust this into his hand proclaiming, "Ab amico tuo: ecce haec epistulae" or some such doggerel.
Sounds to me as if the waiter has slipped some grappa into his tamarindo!

Bright Sun In The Square

I wish I could remember more - the whole letter:
some fragments come, no photographic memory.
I recall hanging on each Latin word and phrase
with goatskin vino, hunk of bread and cheese
seated at ease in oleander shade,
it seemed penned by th'exiled Roman bard,
no need translate - my brain was latin-wired.

Can still see my Chaucer notes 'bout Ars Amoris,
which crops up in the Canterbuty tales:
"A lovers handbook by the poet Ovidius,
literary giant of the ancient world."
And I, reading this key letter just yesterday
can now mostly see shadows on a page
of freshly folded parchment, bright sun in the square -
I shoulda done that Dale Carnegie course...
Two things are even odder: as I write these notes
now in Amato with a rum and coke
that messenger just rode by on a Ducati;
second is doubt - the doubt within my mind -
not that I was there reading that mint papyrus
my doubt was whether Ovid was the author
......sorry protocol at the Amato says my time is up with this computer - to be continued.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

News from Roma

I had been wondering what's happened to Rob. Last I heard he was in Pero with Maria. Now it appears Maria is back - I ran into her today in Cafe EuroMed. She's very reticent about her visit to her homeland. Still no pubication date for her forthcoming volume "The Sensual Crayon"
When I got home I found a letter on the mat. It contained this. Typical of Robert not to include a letter - just the pome scrawled on a napkin bearing the title "Amato". Oh Well at least he seems to be having a ball.


Somewhere on the third hill
beside the railway line
above the Piazza Risorgimento -
home in on Google Earth
& you can just see it among the ruins
centuries old – the tomb of Robutus, my ancestor.

I found it, separate from the vaults,
a weathered slab, sloping encrustation,
almost erased th’inscription:

“Robutus Ovidii amicus
Corpus atque moenium generis muralis
Dithirambi et carmina pro Bachi pangabat
Coluit in Roma et in Roma
Ad suum moenium recurrit”

As I stood numbly trying to translate
I seemd to stumble, blankd – the empty world
replacd the full one, pod-like, dark
thousand-year preserver of seed.
stript of all photons a floating funnel
where Dante, Michelangelo and Fellini
could be heard laughing. Their
joyful giggles accompanied
my bumpy landing in a busy market
not far from… what recognised? Those toga’d
gents – such decorum at the Forum!

The speech I heard around me
not Italian, though it had the ring, was Latin.
That much I knew, marvelled how it bubbled
from their lips – mine also – my
hot lips! Spoke in Latin, for a day
down there.
Now, a touristo inglaisie
I transcribe these notes for you
my fine friends in Kentish Town;
I'm up among Fiats and Alfas again,
sipping a tamarindo in the Via Giadorno Bruno.