How to view a Cathedral
In Milan, a bite-sized view is best
Which is as much as one can digest
Of this most Gothic of sweet confections
Iced in white marble with pink inflections
Topped with a thousand-and-one nonpareils
Like a cake for Methuselah’s birthday
O’ertopped by the Madonna’s slight figure
While Napoleon’s looks a little bigger.
In Pisa, the approach is all: through the grimy town
Over the on-rushing Arno – deep, silty and brown
To glimpse them by the city wall, set out on the grass
Like chessmen seen through a looking-glass –
The dazzling white queen behind her romantic façade
Attends her bishop: with matching dome, he stands guard
While a jaunty rook leans in, to make up the tableau –
In fancy top-hat, with bells on – stealing the show.
Parma’s, meanwhile, should be viewed at first light
When its three-tiered arches float into sight
Cultivated in a soft roseate stone
Its fine nest of walls organically grown
Infused with the essence of pink carnation –
A divine, high-earthen co-creation:
Two lions sit foursquare at the entrance
Regarding cod-Baptists, like me, askance.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Peter
be pleased to hear them.