Many waters

The quality of Venice that accomplishes what religion so often cannot is that Venice has made peace with the waters. It is not merely pleasant that the sea flows through, grasping the city like tendrils of vine, and, depending upon the light, making alleys and avenues of emerald and sapphire, it is a brave acceptance of dissolution and an unflinching settlement with death. Though in Venice you may sit in courtyards of stone, and your heels may click up marble stairs, you cannot move without riding upon or crossing the waters that someday will carry you in dissolution to the sea.

Mark Helprin
Il colore ritrovato
The Pacific and Other Stories

Vibrant colours, hot sun overhead, people, surely from just about every nation on earth, boats large and small plying the Grand Canal with surety and speed. Art and architecture that takes the breath away. Hot and intensely busy … until the gondola enters into the water streets behind the immediate gilded attractions. Only moments away from cacophony there is very beautiful water-lapping sanctuary, shade and a near-eerie stillness. Certainly time to dwell for a moment on the extraordinary and colourful sight of a funeral bier we’d seen half an hour ago, precariously wheeling a coffin through cheerful cosmopolitan chaos. The cortege was heading for a funeral barge. We could see the church and the huge churchyard across the waters. It all appeared to be so utterly natural, the tinge of regret, upon the passing of a fellow human being, coloured by the strongest sense, in the midst of all this thronging life, that his or her death could not possibly be their ultimate end.

Venice is so very, very much. Marco Polo was reluctant to say its name, whilst in speaking of any other city on earth he was really describing Venice. For now it’s the “making alleys and avenues of emerald and sapphire” whilst crossing the many waters of life that is in the forefront of my mind. I won’t forget Venice. I know we will meet again.

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