This is a poem about someone who has been fascinated by what they have read about the Renaissance in books and what they have seen in paintings. They are totally entranced by the beauty of it and they would like to go five hundred years back in time to Italy and see it for themselves. This poem imagines that they have found themselves there and have found it to be a more complicated place than the picture they have been presented with. A place of danger and persecution, as well as artistic and intellectual enlightenment.
I’ve only seen the Renaissance in books and frames,
and in my mind this is such a great shame.
If I could charter a ship and sail through time,
I would talk with all of the great thinkers and minds.
Be a muse for Da Vinci and even more for Botticelli,
then return and wonder ‘have I lived once already?’
See a face in a painting that’s awfully familiar,
yet I’d just put it down to someone similar.
Dante’s circles may not be quite my thing
but neither are the angels that do sing.
Florence is hot in this Summer of flame
I must take care to not join this game.
I gaze in wonder at the grand ships of trade
but I remember the woes of those enslaved.
Who paid for the splendid basilica dome?
How much blood was sold to construct Rome?
I bring to mind what Machiavelli said,
keep yourself alive and bow your head.
These are the cities where the saints do sleep,
I should go home lest I wander too deep.