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A Traveler's Tarantella
by
Joseph Ashby-Sterry
Written in ‘Murray’s Handbook’ while the band in the Piazza San Marco was playing the Tarantella
from Masanielio.


                            I.

All that the tourist can dream of or hear about,
Crowds on your sight as you carelessly peer about,
Quaint water streets you so carefully steer about,
     See the Rialto, and Square of St. Mark!
Floating in gondolas, laughing and jollity,
Cyprian wine of the very best quality,
At Florian’s caffè—mid fun and frivolity—
     Venice delightful from daylight to dark!
          Musicians in plenty,
          Play ‘Ecco ridente,’
or 'Com'è gentil,’ in the still summer night;
                       If you’re in a hurry,
                       Pray look in your Murray
You’ll find his description is perfectly right!

                            II.
Albergo Reale and English society,
Bric-a-brac shops in their endless variety,
Plenty of pigeons not fearful of pie-ety,
     Flutter and peck ‘neath the bluest of skies.
Dreaming in Venice? Ah, wildest of fallacies—
Bronzes and sculpture, mosaics and chalices,
Convents and churches and prisons and palaces,
     See as you stand on the grim Bridge of Sighs!
                     The ballads of Byron,
                     You’ll find will environ
     The Doges and dodges and Brides of the Sea.
                     Don’t get in a flurry,
                     But read it in Murray
If you don’t care about it, then listen to me!


                           III.
Thousands of thirsty mosquitoes are biting one,
Silvery moonlight is ever delighting one,
Music and mirth every moment inviting one—
     Dreary old London we quickly forget!
Shylock and Portia—in short, the whole kit of ‘em,
Readers of Shakespeare recall ev’ry bit of ‘em;
Troublesome guides, you can never get quit of ‘em—
     Pictures by titian and old Tintoret!
                    The sock and the buskin,
                    With Rogers and Ruskin,
Are mixed in a muddle with palace and sight!
                    It may be a worry,
                    But don’t forget Murray,
He’ll throw on your darkness some excellent light!

Caffè Florian, Venezia

This poem is in the public domain.

Purchase a framed print of this poem.


Joseph Ashby-Sterry by Harry Furniss, pen and ink, NPG 6251 (2).
This sketch owned by the National Portrait Gallery in London. Used here with permission.
Joseph Ashby-Sterry (1836 - 1917) was an English author and artist who wrote novels, essays, and poetry. The only other
details we've been able to unearth about his life thus far is that he lived in London and enjoyed rowing and sailing.

(from yourdailypoem.com)

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