Oh, glorious Etruscan days,

in which – even in tombs of death –

the joys of dance were celebrated,

also the carnal pleasures of the flesh.

But, then:

What’s left of that great kingdom?

Mere tombs and stones and dry grassed hills.

Gone all its poetry – gone all the music and the songs:

The dances in those darkened vaults are silent.

The cell, which is my bedroom –

 a safeguard of our love which shielded us from foes,

also the altar of our blessèd fornication –

still houses all her gifts to me,

the etchings and the drawings,

those souvenirs of love

that now remind me of the ruin.

As art they live,

as signs of love they’re dead by now.

Its frame become a tomb.

Inside it: Us – that couple.

Once metonymic image of our bond.

A given then, perhaps even a metaphor.

Does human love run through same cycles

as overstretchèd empires do, and kingdoms vast?

The vibrant rise towards the summit

of a complete and evident belonging.

And then, against both wills,

the slow decay sets in.

Not really seen, not truly felt at first,

yet of a sudden there:

The slow descent in foul indifference.

Woe, Poet!

The metaphor that once gave life,

may now be killing.

Sic transit – yes, oh yes – Sic transit…

When love is lost amongst the ruins of a past,

covered with thistles and haphazard stones,

lying around amongst the dwellings of the dead,

once vigilantly cared for,

cubicles that lined the lanes which have become invisible:

What’s left is not too much.

The farce of life gets on my nerves.

The balms of irony and humour

no longer sooth the ailments.

Delight dulled into pleasure,

Now pleasure dulls into a mere existence –

then is heard of no more.

Sierksma, La Roche 9.9/2016


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats.

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