Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Idle stones", a poem to the ruins underneath Aosta, on the Via Francigena

These two past weeks, Estela and I have been discovering the wonders of the Pilgrim route of the Via Francigena. When in Aosta city, in Northern Italy's Val d'Aosta, we visited the underground, both the Criptoportico Roman Ruins, which in the era of the Emperor Augustus, served as a pagan religious center, but then when abandoned, was used by the first Christians in hiding, as well as in the Primitive or Paleo Christian Church of San Lorenzo.. Here I felt deeply moved, entranced, and then I wrote this poem, which I share with you: Idle Stones.

Idle stones
by Patrick Kavanagh

Criptoportico, Aosta
"While some feel they only stumble idly over stones, I feel I rumble through pages of history, of treachery untold, and of long-forgotten romance."

Criptoportico, Aosta
"While some see only rocks and mortar, I see stories to be told."

Criptoportico, Aosta

"These stones are timid beauties that light up this dark underworld, with hues of brown, of beige, of tan and of grey, and sparkle mischievously with the least excuse of a lantern passing by, gracing an otherwise dreary abode."

Criptoportico, Aosta

"Some say these rocks are hard, cold and dumb brutes. I think they wisely treasure warmth when it comes their way, and bear the cold in silent dignity. Their hardness is but witness of their silent bearing of the oppression of glaciers from ages ago, and liberated only to be cleansed in the coldest of mountain streams."

Crisptoportico, Aosta

"I hear the distant sobbing of inconsolable mother, holding onto her lifeless babe about to be buried."

Paleo-Christian chapel, Aosta

"I hear the faint sounds of the mirth of young lovers and the ruffling sound as they undo their garments in haste, heeding neither warning nor prudence, as they abandon themselves to relish the sweet pleasures of intimacy, while making false pledges of eternal love, yet forsaking themselves helplessly to the chains of  lechery."

Pillar, Paleo.Christian Chapel.

"I hear the villainous plotting of a pair of pickpockets, as these rouges store away their booty in an abandoned tomb, making up excuses for their iniquity, justifying their treachery with the truisms that the world is not a place of justice, and the worst of thieves is the ruler in power or the hard-working merchant."

Paleo-Christian Chapel and Baptismal Basin
"Can not you hear the uncontrolled chattering of teeth, as the brave young man grasping his new faith in Christ, shivering as heclimbs out of the freezing water of the baptismal basin in the catacombs, unaware that within days he will be buried among these very stones as he valiantly defies the Roman Consuls orders and becomes a martyr?"

Well (or Baptismal Basin)
Saint Lawrence Church, Aosta

"Where some only see the dark, I make out the shadows of figures long gone."
Tombs, Saint Lawrence Church, Aosta
"Where others only feel dampness, I feel the presence of life-giving water."
Tombs,Saint Lawrence Chruch, Aosta.
"Where others only see the clouds, I see the shroud of the heavens."
"Where some only see broken mosaics that no longer match, I see clues to the past."
Tombs. Saint Lawrence Church, Aosta,
"Where some only see stones, I see memories."
"Where some only see dust, I see the mantle of time."

"Where some only feel engulfed by the dark foreboding,
I feel bathed in light and hope!"
"Where some only feel boredom, I feel entranced!"

"We must part, and we bid thee farewell,
but not because you are dead,
but because you are forever alive!"

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