Thursday, March 3, 2011
Seven years ago I visited Assisi on two different occasions, separated by a couple months. This Italian hill town is a curious place, one that everyone said was somehow magical. A bit of a skeptic at heart, I was ready to be disappointed. Instead, I was captivated. This poem captures just a little of what Assisi and its most famous citizen are about. Having discovered a devotion to my patroness, Clare, in the years since I visited Assisi, I would love to return some day.
by Robert Cording
Even in February the buses came and climbed the hill,
The Umbrian light an angel's wing in cloud,
Glowing from some unknowable source in an Italian painting.
No wonder some gave a life's savings to see St. Francis's
City of pink stone. No wonder we couldn't help loving
Those arching crypts, blue and storied as a child's heaven.
What we want to remember, we do. How he could keep on giving
His one robe, unashamed by love. How his love never failed
The sick, the poor, the criminal. Even a war in Arezzo
Simply disappeared, like rain into sunlight, St. Francis
Undoing the daily harm no one could ever alter in his life.
The demons said to be in all of us laid down their weapons,
Taken by such tenderness. Everyone was forgiven in Giotto's picture.
Saint Francis went on, unable to sleep, so many blessings
Still needed to be given. He walked all the way to Mt. La Verna.
When we close our eyes, we can see him hold out his hands.
The wounds bleed into them and into his body, the marks
Of another life. From then on, he grew thinner until he was
Gone, his love absolute. At least once, some one saw him
Come back, robed in light. Giotto would have us believe
It was only a dream of what we cannot stop imagining.
We came back all winter; listening to the monks tell his story
Until word for word, we could repeat it.
Picture from Famous Wonders.