Posted by: John Looker | 9 January, 2011

SAILING TO ISTANBUL

This is the second poem reflecting on a recent experience of Istanbul and its region.      The first was ‘Narrow Passage’ at https://johnstevensjs.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/narrow-passage/



SAILING TO ISTANBUL


Viewed from the sea the city appears to float
(more vision than real estate) on a carpet of trees.
Against the glow of an evening sky we trace,
with a draughtsman’s precision, the silhouettes
of ancient walls, of minarets and domes –
and Aya Sofya, whose golden vault still tries
to lift mass heaven-ward. Here, entranced,
the human spirit spirals aloft in flight.

But look more closely into this sleight of hand.
Beneath these domes and minarets, rising
like seraphim, are columns, buttresses and piers.
Structures are grounded in calculation that’s honed
by fear of failure. There’s sweat. There’s stone, reaching
to bedrock, rooted in practical muscular powers.


© John Stevens 2010

Aya Sofya is the Turkish name for the great building, also known as Hagia Sophia or Saint Sophia, which was a cathedral for a millenium and a mosque for 500 years, before becoming a museum early in the 20th century.

Follow up by looking at Wikipedia’s pages on Istanbul – at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul

For images of Istanbul, try the Lonely Planet website:
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/turkey/istanbul

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Responses

  1. John,
    absolutely wonderful.

    Like

  2. Love it John – bringing down to Earth the attempts of the builders to make us reach for heaven.

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  3. Many thanks, both of you, for taking time to comment. I’m really glad you liked it.

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  4. I find this to be a wonderful metaphor.

    If we want to build our own dream then we first have to put the hard work in building the foundations.

    David

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    • That’s very interesting, David. The same thought grew strongly in my mind as the poem evolved – but I wasn’t conscious of it at the beginning.

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  5. well that’s just breathtaking imagery/writing there. thanks.

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  6. This is an excellent follow from the last poem – I remember the silent constriction of the last and here it opens up into a landscape but still with the same foundation of hard fought history.

    Sure beats a postcard. 🙂

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  7. Thanks a lot Michael and Kiersty – that’s very generous of you. I have another in progress – part of a mini-project in my mind using Istanbul as the jumping off point.

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  8. How about Byzantium? See ya there.

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  9. Yes, David is right, a good foundation is a valuable thing indeed—but as I started to say on my site—I think you are giving us a poem of some deflation. The city at sea in a glow of evening. On the one hand, a tourist platitude; on the other, we have to wonder at a seeping danger. Is that carpet of trees going to be comfy and secure, or will we sink the whole shebang with our added weight? Sure, there is stone and sweat, but we never do reach land, do we? O, that reasonable tone—‘the city appears to float’, ‘but look more closely at this sleight of hand’. As if we have all the time in the world—but we never do reach land, we never do.
    Very nice.
    Jim

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    • Thanks, Jim. I’m grateful for your interest – you are helping me to see this poem, and its siblings which are growing in my mind, from a different perspective. I hope people will turn to your own Byzantium poem on your ExtraSimile site.

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  10. Like the view itself: dreamy and ethereal, but absolutely solid underneath. A fine piece of work, John, both technically and artistically.

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    • That’s really generous of you, Nick. Thanks.

      Like

  11. Beautiful poem!

    ” Hagia Sophia”s foundation was found to be a slope of natural rock with a downward inclination to the East that has a small crest symmetrical to the building”s East-West axis. ” http://www.springerlink.com/content/g451344077451303/ A slope of natural rock! So that is probably the best foundation for dreams? Nature? 🙂

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    • Hello Ina. Thank you for visiting, and for your kind comment. I like your geological school of literary criticism!

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      • So that’s what it was? 🙂

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  12. its like a trip from right to left brain

    wonderful poem

    Like

    • What a marvellous comment – thank you! (I’d better look up brain physiology on Wikipedia, as I can’t remember which hemisphere does what!)

      Like


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