The Glory of Spain: Two New Poems
By Seymour Mayne

This past November I was fortunate to spend a week in Córdoba again, staying within an orange's throw of the Mezquita-Cathedral. The crowded but colourful streets of the old city are filled with shops, many of them displaying the leather goods for which the city is justly famous. As I was taking my time wandering one afternoon, the poem "Córdoba" flew into my awareness and I quickly drafted it at a nearby cafe.

"Above the Puerta" is another poem given to me, so to speak, on another walk, this time alongside the Juderia, the old Jewish quarter, where one of the gates of the old walls opens to a small but busy square. The flocks of birds that late afternoon seemed to be sending some kind of message by way of the code of their flying and diving, and the late afternoon sun only highlighted their metaphors in flight.

Córdoba is best savoured in the late afternoons and early evenings when the light and the quiet of the narrow streets enhance the Andalusian languor and urge the traveler to sink further into his or her wondering--and wandering--thoughts.


There is a smell of leather
         in Córdoba,
of tanned hide.

Even the walls
        and squares
are stricken
as if with the slow
strokes of a tanner.
They are thickened
         by each blow
of submission
without word, past
        glory preserved.

Hold Córdoba snugly
           under your arm,
hold her close
         full as she is,
a seasoned satchel
bleached and baked
by the impassive
        but crafty sun.



for Bernd Dietz

         above the Puerta
                  de Almodóvar
                of sparrows
     over the palms,
                break into arcs,
wheel back again
         towards the gravity
                      of the tower.

        should they
                  guide themselves
to our feet
         or plentiful
They are high,
         higher now
                than the pacific sun
which earlier
        nudged them into
                the thousand and one
perches and shelters
              by the gardens
                along the ancient walls.

        with flight
                they pepper
the air,
        careening buckshot
         at the ceramic blue.

They shatter the peace
        with yet
                another lunge
before night
          settles them into
                the armistice of sleep.

November 2000

Travelterrific is honoured to feature the work of Seymour Mayne.
Seymour Mayne, Professor of Canadian Literature at the
University of Ottawa, is the author, editor or translator of more
than forty books and monographs. His most recent collections include
Carbon Filter (Mosaic Press), and a selection of humourous
and satirical poetry, Light Industry (Mosaic Press).




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