What country is this? Waking in a strange hotel,
Look out the window at the sign there: “Strada,”
A road in Rome where dome and portico tell
How Art strolls down the street, inamorata.
But History rolls, not walks, never pedestrian
Into the street, cacophony and sonata;
The streams of life, cars’ Arno-Tiber-Po, swell
Though traffic rankles Caesar not, that old equestrian.
The night is Cabiria’s: Pathos and charm recall her
In “La Strada,” wandering splendor and squalor,
The grimy face behind the grand facade;
Portico — Porsche — Fiat Lux — Luxurious,
You straddle, strada, rich courtesan, whore penurious.
Are we mere onlookers? Add to iniquities
The role that English-speakers here evade,
Though heirs of gambollers among antiquities
Where destinies played out and prayed;
Art challenges us: How can it be remade?
These beautiful scenes — forever to be remanned —
Need stages, sound or not, but all we have on hand
Is obsolete, an antiquated scrap: a strade.
NOTES for Students of English
…stages, sound or not, – A pun on “sound stage” which can mean 1) a sound-proof building for filming movies and television shows; or 2) a reliably built stage.
Strade – A rare English word circa 1400 meaning a “skirmish.”