Romeo House, Verona. | The Daily Star

Photo: Neeman Sobhan


Photo: Neeman Sobhan

[Casa di Romeo, Via Arche delle Scaligere: Historians say this was the house of Cagnolo Nogarola, a Guelph supporter, like the Capulets, Juliet’s family. But according to legend and literary texts, the Monetcchi family, or the Montagues, lived here until the 14th century, and the V-shaped battlement was the ‘swallow tail’ symbol of the opposing faction, the Ghibellines, which Romeo’s family supported.

A marble tablet on the external wall bears a quotation from Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’: “.. I have lost myself; I am not here. This is not Romeo; he’s some other where.” (Act1,Scene1)]

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At noon, we enter a park, leaving behind his house-

a private house now, although a castle, really,

whose walled and crenellated limit allows

no trespassing, queues or keyholes; only

fantasy jumps for those who dare to dream

things are true “as the bard’s own hero once sighed

in costumed flesh, or as a simple modern meme

of thwarted love, doomed forever to disappear

the world of shadows and shades of truth:

myths, quotes on the marble slab

scenes staged and filmed, the “why” or “for sure”,

the blur of things neither white nor black.

Having waited in vain like beggars at a door

we claim our alms in photos, click and pose

and leave the alley of half-lies, legends and traditions,

turn the corner and enter the groves

of this public garden, where, under the cultivated trees

and gazed at the pedestals from the stern

statues of upright citizens unfazed by the breeze,

we come together, as if the schoolchildren lead to learn

history lessons, strict facts about the past

to chase the pesky pigeon flights of poetry.

Yet lying on the grass, a strange light is projected

on me by an ancient bent tree,

whose dovetail branches support the sky

of my dreams, like medieval parapets

keeping the green spot where I am

embracing the provocative secrets of my heart.

He knows not to ask if he ever existed

or live in this barred and speechless house,

because today, I hear the silent wind insist:

We too will soon be tales in the eternal book of times.

Author of Piazza Bangladesh (2014) and Calligraphy of Wet Leaves (2015), Neeman Sobhan is an Italy-based fiction writer, poet and columnist, until recently teaching English and Bengali at the University of Rome.

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