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This poem is taken from PN Review 117, Volume 24 Number 1, September - October 1997.

Sonnets from the Portuguese Martin Earl

1. Arches

If we could only imagine the public space
As something truly public, and not this region
Of celebrated interests, of braided voussoirs
And crowded lintels, dozing in retraced
Postures, and eyeworn robes - empyrean
Fallout, boyperson lost, his sheep misplaced.

The Romans invented new volumes
Not to enclose, but to mimic the sky,
Vast baths designed almost by nature.
The age we call Archaic: invented rooms
For vomiting, talking, waiting to die -
Period of arches, lofting entablatures.

Coming on them now, as ruins (deepest
word our culture has), we are reminded
Not of something distant, or lost in time,
...


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