You are here

Capriccio with Ruins

Alan Hollinghurst

Any day finds me gingerly climbing

over the moist tilting stones,

looking up at the broken architrave

and banderols of weed.


From the accidental pulpit

of slipped — and slipping — masonry

my view is surely Rome

of 1750, birch and elder


sinking their roots like nostalgia

into the crumbling vaults,

country types at business

sketched in the grassy squares.


Autumn: the cattle shelter

by this improbable arch,

their rough, mauve tongues

graze the strung-up salt-block.


I am scratching the name

and date on this rock

week by week; it looks

as if just dashed off.

From Poetry Review, January 1984