Posted by: John Looker | 29 September, 2019

Serenade for Europe

Poetry Salzburg Review kindly published this poem of mine in their Summer 2019 issue. It is one of two I have written about Europe, the companion poem having been published by Magma in their Europe edition of 2018.

The bay in Cyprus where it is said that Aphrodite appeared.

 

Serenade for Europe

Dusk
with his inky fingers has touched
the little bay where Aphrodite appeared,
so soft and rosy-pink, among the rocks. 

He brushes the Dardanelles, the Danube, 
and reaching north draws a blanket  
slowly over forests where the wild boar run. 
He brings a hush to the lands of the longship 

then turns for the turbulent isles
and so to the twin ends of the earth. 
Under his spell the shutters of vineyard châteaux  
are closing, starlings thickening the air.  

He darkens mountain and plain 
coming at last to the mouth of the Tagus 
where caravels, of heart-stopping fragility, 
sailed for the Indies, east and west. 

And Europa sleeps. Or so it would seem: 
one eye open and dreaming fitfully 
our home, our continent, 
sleeps. 

 

© John Looker 2019

‘Dusk with his inky fingers’ is an allusion to the recurrent mention of ‘Dawn with her rosy fingers’ in Homer’s Odyssey. The first of the two photos shows the little bay in Cyprus where, it is presumed, Aphrodite appeared. The second shows the mouth of the River Tagus just outside Lisbon in Portugal.

The mouth of the Tagus, near Lisbon.

 

The companion poem, The Descent of Europe, published by Magma can be read here at: https://wordpress.com/post/johnlooker.wordpress.com/3268


Responses

  1. I’m not sure that Poetry Salzburg Review ever publish anything out of ‘kindness’ :). You are far too modest. They published this poem because it is outstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simply brilliant, in the Homeric sense: bright, clear, ‘objective’ while engaging with honesty and passion the ultimate subjectivity of cultural collapse. Bravo, John!

    Like

    • That’s very kind of you Tom – and I appreciate your careful reading, as always. Best wishes to you, John

      Like

  3. i agree, it is a brilliant poem and interesting rather unique theme

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    • Many thanks Jane. I’m glad it spoke to you too. J

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  4. You are a brilliant poet, John. This poem takes some work to follow all of the allusions to Greek mythology into full meaning. The poem almost seems suggest that Europe may be in dusk, sleeping fitfully. The images are just outstanding.

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    • Hi Tom, and thank you. This poem is not so easy for North Americans I think, but Europe is my home, my continent, and I know all the places mentioned. I am delighted if these lines convey something to you of all that I felt in writing them. All the best, John

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  5. What a wonderful poem and so right at this time. I love the classical allusions.

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    • How nice of you! And I’m glad you feel it is in sync with these turbulent times.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I could see in my mind’s eye your poetic journey, thanks for the voyage. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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    • Thank you for commenting – it is so rewarding to hear from you!

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  7. Such fantastic imagery. Especially in that first paragraph. And I love the allusions too.

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  8. This is simply wonderful, John; elegant, elegaic and, in the context you and I both know so well, almost unbearably poignant. And I sense the note of defiance in the penultimate line ‘Our home, our continent’. It ain’t over yet. N.

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    • Many thanks Nick, that’s most kind and yes there is that note of defiance I would say.

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  9. I love that vision of those caravels at the mouth of the Tagus. Europe – our home, our continent – indeed.

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    • Thank you Hilary, I’m glad the poem speaks to you. My wife and I have watched the ships and boats at the mouth of the Tagus and it is easy to conjure up those caravels.

      Like


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