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And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

On Santo Stefano, because we were hungry again—how is that possible?—we went to Orvieto.  For lunch at Trattoria dell’Orso, for a jar of honey, for some overpriced (but excellent) coppiette, and for a look at the Antichrist.

I know I shouldn't leave the last word to a man, especially a dead white one.  But when you get to the end and see what his last word is. Well.

And anyway, I will always love that high concert of colour.

The railway journey from Florence to Rome has been altered both for the better and for the worse; for the better in that it has been shortened by a couple of hours; for the worse inasmuch as when about half the distance has been traversed the train deflects to the west and leaves the beautiful old cities of Assisi, Perugia, Terni, Narni, unvisited. Of old it was possible to call at these places, in a manner, from the window of the train; even if you didn’t stop, as you probably couldn’t, every time you passed, the immensely interesting way in which, like a loosened belt on an aged and shrunken person, their ample walls held them easily together was something well worth noting. Now, however, for compensation, the express train to Rome stops at Orvieto, and in consequence... In consequence what? What is the result of the stop of an express train at Orvieto? As I glibly wrote that sentence I suddenly paused, aware of the queer stuff I was uttering. That an express train would graze the base of the horrid purple mountain from the apex of which this dark old Catholic city uplifts the glittering front of its cathedral—that might have been foretold by a keen observer of contemporary manners. But that it would really have the grossness to hang about is a fact over which, as he records it, an inveterate, a perverse cherisher of the sense of the past order, the order still largely prevailing at the time of his first visit to Italy, may well make what is vulgarly called an ado. The train does stop at Orvieto, not very long, it is true, but long enough to let you out. The same phenomenon takes place on the following day, when, having visited the city, you get in again. I availed myself without scruple of both of these occasions, having formerly neglected to drive to the place in a post-chaise. But frankly, the railway-station being in the plain and the town on the summit of an extraordinary hill, you have time to forget the puffing indiscretion while you wind upwards to the city-gate. The position of Orvieto is superb—worthy of the “middle distance” of an eighteenth-century landscape. But, as every one knows, the splendid Cathedral is the proper attraction of the spot, which, indeed, save for this fine monument and for its craggy and crumbling ramparts, is a meanly arranged and, as Italian cities go, not particularly impressive little town. I spent a beautiful Sunday there and took in the charming church. I gave it my best attention, though on the whole I fear I found it inferior to its fame. A high concert of colour, however, is the densely carved front, richly covered with radiant mosaics. The old white marble of the sculptured portions is as softly yellow as ancient ivory; the large exceedingly bright pictures above them flashed and twinkled in the glorious weather. Very striking and interesting the theological frescoes of Luca Signorelli, though I have seen compositions of this general order that appealed to me more. Characteristically fresh, finally, the clear-faced saints and seraphs, in robes of pink and azure, whom Fra Angelico has painted upon the ceiling of the great chapel, along with a noble sitting figure—more expressive of movement than most of the creations of this pictorial peace-maker—of Christ in judgment.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[sabato 29 dicembre 2018 ore 19:01:04] []

Cela dépend de qui sont les autres.

And in order to write that poem, Ms. Bishop needed to be alone.  This did not stop her from cooking meals and inviting friends to help her eat the food and drink wine with her.  After this, probably the next morning, she went back to the poem and her solitude.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[lunedì 24 dicembre 2018 ore 15:03:00] []

“Yo... Let's set up a time to talk to your ladyship...”

What if you said to people.  Listen.  Would you write me a letter.  You can send it via the Internet, you don't have to send it the old-fashioned way (though I would love that, because I think that would be good for me, and for us).  But would you write me a letter.  Would you sit down with yourself if you can, and tell me in words that are made with your hand, what comes when you sit down with yourself, and with the idea of me.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[lunedì 24 dicembre 2018 ore 04:56:15] []

Brevity, thy name is Wednesday.

At Poetry magazine this month, I am struck by Martha Zweig’s “The Breakfast Nook.”  Even more struck, maybe, by the way the folks at Poetry put it:

This poem starts early in the day, and early in the speaker’s life, only to close by reminding us that—once it gets late enough—none of us come back.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[mercoledì 05 dicembre 2018 ore 10:53:00] []

Make Believe

At the end of November Jeannie comes up to Florence.  We spend the day loving the city, and the city loves us back.  It’s cold, but nothing feels too far away to make that matter very much.  At least, nothing we want.

We go to the Christmas market at Palazzo Corsini, mostly because we just want to see the inside of Palazzo Corsini (which does not disappoint).  Jeannie considers some paisley-patterned dressing-gowns of pashmina-soft wool, in which we imagine her curled up by the fireplace at Calvi.  I consider a purse of bottle-green velvet, and a cape of burgundy silk, the kind I would wear at sixty, while accepting some kind of award for being stately, elegant, and almost Florentine.  In writing all this now, it occurs to me that this is maybe the only way I like to be among clothes that someone is trying to sell me (and then too, not for too long): when they let me imagine.

There were some darknesses too of course.  How could there not have been?


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[martedì 04 dicembre 2018 ore 10:28:00] []