Poem introduction

from The Tourist in Seat 29

Cordoba

Cordoba

Discreetly patios assume
Their late afternoon look
Of sunshine, blue tile, geraniums
And scrolled ironwork.

Beyond the Roman archway lies
The river slack and sad
Where ruins of the Moorish mills
Grind no more for bread.
Motley on crumbling ochre walls
Flutter rags and patches
Of posters for American films
Bullfights and football matches.

Poised upon captured Roman columns
Abdurrahman’s mosque
Raises its striped and doubled arches;
The choir is plateresque;
Pure structure and fantastic art
Reconcile the schism
Of heaven wrought with images
And pure monotheism.

Dusty Time wields a mason’s trowel
And slowly labours on,
Spits, and calls for his mules
With another load of stone.


‘Cordoba’, from Inscription on a Paper Dart: Selected Poems 1945-1972 (Auckland University Press; Oxford University Press, 1974), © M K Joseph 1974, used by permission of Charles Joseph for the Joseph Family Trust. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974.

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