Ode On a Florentine Snapshot

Responding to John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

Davy, Robby, and Jon; Italy, 1959. Photo by Barbara Bellow Watson.

My still unravaged pride and quietness
As poster-child assailants, in slow time,
Bring family love to bear, and thus distress,
Upon the silken head that once was mine.

Fair youth, beneath the trees you cannot see
The rolled-up map whose blur portends high sorrow;
Frozen in its sacrificial spree,
It leaves a burning forehead for the morrow.

Ah, crappy-fated boy who does not dread
The laughter of his dear fraternal pair,
Or know a Tempe map will foul his head
In other ways and times. It’s just unfair.

The scene was Boboli, so I was born
Six years before (my brothers had preferred
A dog, I’m told); and not a soul to warn
That I was targeted can yet be heard.

Heart maladies ensued, but this was hard—
A mother caught up framing her young brood,
A brother happy to be thought “a card,”
And none of us accustomed to the food.

Oh, out of shape! Bad attitude! You breed
Of marble man with maidens overwrought!
Was this the blow that bent your sapling seed?
A rod unspared? A lesson best untaught?

Could you have only seen how love was going to go;
That’s what we learn on Earth, past when we need to know.