Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Death in Liguria

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Death in Liguria

Article excerpt

[The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, with his friend Edward Williams, drowned in the Bay of Lerici, Italy, July 8, 1822.]

From the shore we could see

only the lanterns of the fishing boats

appearing and disappearing on the waves

as they searched through the night,

and knew that your bodies would not be found.

That a little storm could be so perverse,

the sea so obstinate ....

Words cannot save us from drowning with you.

We wanted a westwind

to waft your bodies gently to the shore

where we wept and waited

below the green gardens of sweet basil

in the hills above us.

Tomorrow we will be different

from what we are today.

After three days the sea turned you up,

a terrible gift by water,

profane to look upon, south,

on the sands of Viareggio,

an inconvenience to vacationers.

Under a searing sun,

our eyes burning with sweat and tears,

we labored to build the pyre,

then watched the black smoke billow

as you turned to ashes. …

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