Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Peter Porter

Peter Porter just died. I love his praise of poppies.

Streetside Poppies

After fifty years of writing poetry
I lust still for what is natural.

My vernacular was always bookish;
somehow I missed the right Americans,

I couldn't meld the High and Low —
even my jokes aspired to footnotes —

but I am open to Wordsworthian signs.
Along the Via Flaminia the whole

of Rome's rebuilding, cobbles
like liquorice blocks in Piazza del Popolo

and flowering by a building site
'a thin red line' of city poppies.

Time to abort my years of affectation:
burn, you petals, confront Bernini,

remember the queue of conquerors
from Alaric to General Clark.

History has clogged the open city
of the heart: it's sixty feet above

its early certainties and I
can visit churches only for the Art.

The rain's been heavy and the scarlet
of the poppies is flambeau'd along

the verge's dark viridian.
Nature, with Roman gravitas,

draws eyes away from angel angles
down to a footsore gallantry of blooms.

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