April 12, 2016

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Poetry Friday: A Mother's Bridge of Sighs

Friends, I am a mother forlorn.

On Monday, we took my 16-year-old son to BWI airport, left him in the care of his history teacher and campus minister, and said goodbye. He and ten of his school mates are spending the week in Italy.

Robbie packing up the car on Monday.
I lamented to my husband, as we left the airport, "He's going halfway around the world." Which Mr. S scoffed at. We sent the teen on this trip willingly. It's all part of my cunning plan to have him study abroad in college, so I can go visit him.

I have never been to Italy. It's a strange thing to send your child to a place that you have never been, especially when it's somewhere exotic like Venice, Florence and Rome.

He called when the plane landed at 4 AM. (This is the moment when Mr. S said, a little wistfully, "He's halfway across the world!" Didn't I just...?)

He texts once a day. He hasn't eaten pizza yet, but the food is good. There will be no postcards coming in the mail because Italian post is notoriously slow. The best part of Venice was the gardens. Grandpa ("Poppy") is cool for sending the kid some spending money, thanks. And that's about it.

I may have to be happy looking at virtual postcards of Italy.
I am keeping busy and trying not go about my day sighing. What does a sigh that combines envy of a child who you are also missing sound like? Who knows? But let's ask someone a little more verbose than my son tell us about Venice and the Bridge of Sighs. Take it away, Lord B.

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: Canto the Fourth

by George Gordon Byron

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O'er the far times, when many a subject land
Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, thron'd on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion,
A ruler of the waters and their powers:
And such she was; her daughters had their dowers
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East
Pour'd in her lap all gems in sparkling showers.
In purple was she rob'd, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increas'd.

In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
And music meets not always now the ear:
Those days are gone--but Beauty still is here.
States fall, arts fade--but Nature doth not die,
Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

Lord Byron in Albanian Dress, by Thomas Phillips --

Here is some history about the Bridge of Sighs. This is where prisoners glimpsed their last view of gorgeous Venice before they went in the clinker.

And there's more history at this site.  

I am a big fan of Mr. Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know. His home, Newstead Abbey, is near the Nottingham village where my mother grew up. The beautiful gardens of the abbey were our go-to place for summer picnics with my grandmother when I was a little girl.

And hooray! I am not rob'd completely of seeing my son. The Childe has been spotted in Venice. This is a photo posted by another student on the tour.

Photo: Robbie has been spotted in Venice! For Franklyn Dickson, Linda Voorhis
My guy is on the right -- love that big smile!

As Lord Byron says, may the music meet you on this Poetry Friday. Our host is Michelle at "Today's Little Ditty." Thanks, Michelle.


Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Wow. I feel your tangled mix of emotions, Laura! But it must be a comfort to see him look so content in that photo. What an amazing adventure for him... and will be for you too one day if your plan works out. ;)

Georgia Jones-Davis said...

I think you've chosen a good guide to the haunting romance that is Venice. Amazing to think Lord B thought of it as crumbling 200 years ago!

I like his vintage outfit. Hope Childe Shovan has a fabulous visit to Italy. ... tell him to respect the cops. Never appear to cut in line at a museum, especially the vatican and keep his cell phone close by...

Linda B said...

I must confess, I did not know about "mad, bad, and dangerous to know", so then wonder if this is something you want your sixteen year old to be experiencing? Should you not bring him home immediately? Seriously, Laura, we give them up step by step, don't we? I hope your further goal of a year abroad so you may travel to visit is fulfilled! And I do hope he has a fabulous time at this 'pleasant place of all festivity'! (Those gardens look wonderful!)

Tabatha said...

My son just read The Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman this week. Do you think Goldman was inspired by "And silent rows the songless gondolier;"?

Love that smiling photo of Robbie!

Liz Steinglass said...

My 15 year-old son has been away a lot this summer. I've felt so ambivalent about missing him, knowing he should be away building his own life, but also knowing soon he really will be away building his own life. And couldn't he spare just a postcard (or tweet) of words to let us know how it's going?

Diane Mayr said...

Thanks for allowing me to travel vicariously to Italy. I fear it's yet another place I will never get to see. Your son is lucky to be experiencing the world.

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Michelle. It *was* comforting to see that photo. Not easy to let go of my guy!

Author Amok said...

Georgia, I noticed the same thing about Byron's poem. His language is so rich. I love how he captures the beauty of decay.

Author Amok said...

Linda, hi! My teen does not have the Byronesque personality-thank goodness! I am just glad to see him taking a break from his laptop to enjoy being out in the work! Yes, this was a big step in growing up and away.

Author Amok said...

That is one of my favorite lines here, Tabatha. I will have to check out Goldman's book.

Author Amok said...

"In the world" darn auto correct

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

I know this feeling of being at once proud that they are off and having grand adventures and wistfully sad, too. What's wonderful is when they share what they've seen and been drawn to, and you the "get" the influence you have had as a parent, the seeds of interest you 've helped to plant. Safe travels, Robbie!

Amy LV said...

This made me smile and sigh on so many levels, Laura! And your cunning plan...may just have inspired the same one in me. Thank YOU! a.

Bridget Magee said...

*sigh* It's hard to think our "babies" can go off to a foreign land without us -- or even want to! I've a 16 year old of the female variety -- she plans to study abroad in college (England). =)

Mary Lee said...

No kids in this house, so my only experience with the letting go is as the one who worked really hard to escape the grip of home and the stifling small town where I grew up...and now at this other end of the cycle, just finished 3 weeks back home with mom. Made her very happy. Wasn't so bad for me either.

Kerry Aradhya said...

Hi, Laura. I love who you connected what is going on in your life with the perfect poem. It was hard enough for me to send my girls on the bus the first day of elementary school...and the school is only a mile away. Hang in there! Hope your plan works out, too :)