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This report is taken from PN Review 169, Volume 32 Number 5, May - June 2006.

Brodsky on San Michele Daniel Weissbort

Over the ten years since Joseph Brodsky's death in New York on 28 January 1996, at the age of 55, we had intended to visit Venice during the winter, Joseph's preferred time for his annual stay in the city. I find his fond ness for the winter months - one remembers his poem 'Lagoon', where he refers to himself as 'a nobody in a raincoat, owned by nobody' - understandable, particularly after several visits during the summer season, when the little humpback bridges are thronged with people snapping away at the views, and one is knocked about endlessly. In winter, not only would Venice presumably be misty, in the way that attracted Turner and the others, but the crowds might well be less obtrusive. Venice would belong to the Venetians, except at weekends, when visitors would come from near as well as from afar, like ourselves. And so we went there, to visit Brodsky's grave, since he is buried on the walled, island cemetery of San Michele, a short vaporetto ride from San Zaccaria.

It was cold and sleeting but, alas, not particularly misty. We were accompanied by a Russian poet and his wife and another Russian couple, admirers of Joseph Brodsky. The poet's modest grave in this section of the cemetery, restricted to heretics (whatever that may mean), drew attention to itself on account of the plenitude of bouquets bestrewing it, but also its almost comforting familiarity. We had been there several times before. There were ...


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