Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy.
“Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.” George Gordon Noel Byron
Venice robes her for the ball;
Decked with spangles bright,
Teems with laughter light.
Harlequin with negro mask,
Tights of serpent hue,
Beateth with a note fantasque
His Cassander true.
Flapping loose his long, white sleeve,
Like a penguin spread,
Through a subtle semibreve
Pierrot thrusts his head.
Sleek Bologna’s doctor goes
Maundering on a bass.
Punchinello finds for nose
Quaver on his face.
Hurtling Trivellino fine,
On a trill intent,
Scaramouch to Columbine
Gives the fan she lent.
Gliding to the tune, I mark
One veiled figure rise,
While through satin lashes dark
Luring gleam her eyes.
Tender little edge of lace,
Heaving with her breath!
“Under is her own dear face!”
An arpeggio saith.
And beneath the mask I know
Bloom of rosy lips,
And the patch on chin of snow,
As she by me trips!
“The Carnival of Venice.” Theodore Gautier
“By day it is filled with boat traffic – water
buses, delivery boats, gondolas – if something floats
and it’s in Venice, it moves along the Grand Canal.
And by daylight it is one of the glories of the Earth.
But at night, especially when the moon is full
and the soft illumination reflects off the water and
onto the palaces – I don’t know how to describe
it so I won’t, but if you died and in your will you
asked for your ashes to be spread gently on the
Grand Canal at midnight with a full moon,
everyone would know this about you – you loved and understood beauty.”
“The Silent Gondoliers.” William Goldman
This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty – this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.
“Death in Venice.” Thomas Mann
The sun looks out on southern sky,
Upon a merry scene,
And gay Venetians quickly hie
With ringing laugh and sparkling eye
And stately mien.
Ah, happier you with only flowers,
To wreathe your floating hair,
Than she, who pride and bower and hall,
Look down upon the revelry
And the merry makers of the carnival.
“The Carnival of Venice.” Florence Danworth
“A pleasing episode of that world-renowned holiday, the sounds of which Paganini combined in the wonderful composition for the viola bearing it’s name. An Italian noble and his wife are walking along the arcade of the piazza of St Mark; the cicisebo of the lady, who is thrumming a guitar, whispers in her ear from behind his mask: other figures occupy the foreground, while from the upper window of the palazzo, across the open court, lords and ladies look down upon the revelry and the merry-makers of the carnival.
“The Carnival of Venice.” A painting by Carl Becker
“There is still one of which you never speak.’
Marco Polo bowed his head.
‘Venice,’ the Khan said.
Marco smiled. ‘What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?’
The emperor did not turn a hair. ‘And yet I have never heard you mention that name.’
And Polo said: ‘Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.”
“Invisible Cities.” Italo Calvino
“Venice is a city not to inspire thought but sensations. I think it is something to do with the compound of air, water, architecture and the acoustics”
“Arriving at Venice by sea … is like seeing an invented city rise up and quiver in the air. It is a trick of the early light to make the buildings shimmer so that they seem never still”.
“The Passion.” Jeanette Wilson
Oh Venice! Venice! when thy marble walls
Are level with the waters, there shall be
A cry of nations o’er thy sunken halls,
A loud lament along the sweeping sea!
If I, a northern wanderer, weep for thee.
“Ode to Venice.” George Byron