Photo: Neeman Sobhan
Photo: Neeman Sobhan
[Casa di Romeo, Via Arche delle Scaligere: Historians say this was the house of Cagnolo Nogarola, a Guelph supporter, like the Capulets, Juliet’s family. But according to legend and literary texts, the Monetcchi family, or the Montagues, lived here until the 14th century, and the V-shaped battlement was the ‘swallow tail’ symbol of the opposing faction, the Ghibellines, which Romeo’s family supported.
A marble tablet on the external wall bears a quotation from Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’: “.. I have lost myself; I am not here. This is not Romeo; he’s some other where.” (Act1,Scene1)]
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At noon, we enter a park, leaving behind his house-
a private house now, although a castle, really,
whose walled and crenellated limit allows
no trespassing, queues or keyholes; only
fantasy jumps for those who dare to dream
things are true “as the bard’s own hero once sighed
in costumed flesh, or as a simple modern meme
of thwarted love, doomed forever to disappear
the world of shadows and shades of truth:
myths, quotes on the marble slab
scenes staged and filmed, the “why” or “for sure”,
the blur of things neither white nor black.
Having waited in vain like beggars at a door
we claim our alms in photos, click and pose
and leave the alley of half-lies, legends and traditions,
turn the corner and enter the groves
of this public garden, where, under the cultivated trees
and gazed at the pedestals from the stern
statues of upright citizens unperturbed by the breeze,
we come together, as if the schoolchildren lead to learn
history lessons, strict facts about the past
to chase the pesky pigeon flights of poetry.
Yet lying on the grass, a strange light is cast
on me by an ancient bent tree,
whose dovetail branches support the sky
of my dreams, like medieval parapets
keeping the green spot where I am
embracing the provocative secrets of my heart.
He knows not to ask if he ever existed
or live in this barred and speechless house,
because today, I hear the wind without words insist:
We too will soon be tales in the eternal book of times.
Author of Piazza Bangladesh (2014) and Calligraphy of Wet Leaves (2015), Neeman Sobhan is an Italy-based fiction writer, poet and columnist, until recently teaching English and Bengali at the University of Rome.