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Are they a shadow now? Can they hear your thoughts now that they’re ether, a chimera, soon to be dust? What becomes of love when you lose the object behind it?
To think you will join them one day; older, wiser, less you than they remember.
Your dust will never become theirs. There is no map to follow, no compass, no ship or footpath to take, no direction to fly in except to fling oneself back into space.
The will of love, the struggle, the battle for tender ownership is gone. They have vanished, you will vanish, it appears life is lived to once more succumb.
What are subterraneans to each other but cells divided once more and spread through the earth? That cold science of it, when emotions which once ran hot have now ended.
What is love but a bargain with a dream to not yet wake up?
You love your visceral charge, the pulp and sponge of brains and bodies mingling, the clawed caress of longing. The rush of losing. The falling. A little pain goes a long way towards desire, toward the fumbling of the living.
You like your love laced with sadness, no, you like your misery traced with desire, you like the reaching out to hold onto another who turns and looks and then really sees you. No motherly embrace, no fatherly pat on the hand, no lone anchor inside yourself compares with the mirrored eyes of a lover.
To know the unknowable, to reach the unreachable, to fold into a future grief as though the stars made a gift for only you. The pulse means more when there is someone else to listen to it. The ticking clock of your life suddenly speeds up… Every bell once a death knell has become a hallelujah.
The blush of love is the breaking of sun through the tops of trees, the breaking of the waves, the sky after the storm, the first cry at birth, the first hint of pain that can be sweet. To become alive in another’s eyes and heart, to ignite a mind, to wish for them more than you wish yourself.
—An excerpt from one of my pieces in the ongoing writing and audio installation series “Let Me Lose Myself” in Skogskyrkogården in Stockholm, Sweden, 2016 — for ccseven.
A Greco Roman bust outside the chapel in the Italiani Giardini. The white tile stairs lead up to the former bird conservatory.
The winged Egyptian bust overlooking the Marina Grande with Ischia faintly shimmering in the background through the low clouds.
The sphinx watching over the sea, an ancient siren calling wanderlust to travelers.
The bird’s eye view.
The beautiful sweeping coastline of Capri.
The tiny chapel in the garden.
Cypress trees and gorgeous pillars on the terrace overlooking the sea.
There are a series of stairs leading to sumptuous turns of the garden and pathways further up the hill.
Although the villa is high up on Anacapri, there are soaring rocky cliffs surrounding the grounds. One rock was the the fort overtaken by the pirate Redbeard, which was later owned by Axel Munthe and donated back to the island (but owned by) his Swedish foundation.
The veranda, home to the sphinx, is inviting in white tile and stone, with benches to rest on and views everywhere you look.
The charming path way walks are lined with greenery, flowers and fountains.
Every turn on the grounds is more and more enchanting. I cannot recommend enough an hour’s visit to the Villa for it’s peacefulness and beauty. On hot days it’s a cool and shady refuge.
Olive jars, more cypresses and Roman Umbrella pines!
A side view of the Egyptian winged pegasus-like female sphinx.
The exterior of Axel Munthe’s chapel.
Potted urns along the walk.
Herbal garden, leaves and trees.
Hedges and shrubbery grown over decades forming fences.
Another angle of the sphinx’s view.
A tiny boat leaving the shore.
The clouds and mist find each other.
Because of Axel Munthe’s tireless advocation for the exotic array of birds who migrate to the island each year, Capri is now one giant bird sanctuary. Bird hunting is outlawed. The beautiful song of many different birds can be heard from morning to night, when the nightingales come out. It is then when I can feel Keats poem, Ode To A Nightingale, alive in the air.
I worry some of the pictures are a bit repetitious but they were all beautiful reminders of being there. Even a subtle angle change is reminiscent of walking through the grounds and seeing the beauty unfold a step at a time. And believe it or not I am actually restraining myself.
A semi hidden niche at the end of Villa San Michele’s labyrinthine gardens and loggias.
This was part one of the Villa San Michele series shot on portra 35mm film, velvia film slides and vintage kodak. The history of San Michele, more garden rambles, the cafe and interior of the villa, the flora and fauna of the grounds and excerpts from Axel Munthe’s book on his Villa to come in following posts. For visitor information visit: villasanmichele.eu . If you find yourself on Capri, even for a day, you must take a convertible taxi or the bus up to Anacapri (because it’s less crowded, lovely and full of hand painted tile, jewelry and sandal artisans) and it is the home of the Villa San Michele! You won’t regret it!
More to follow! These photographs and travel essays are copyright Rebecca Price Butler, alovelettertorome.com
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.