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Poem: "The Treasures of Marco Polo" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Treasures of Marco Polo"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by marina_bonomi.  It belongs to a shared setting in which Italy and China are allies.  You can read more about Marco Polo's journey online.  The villanelle is an Italian form of poetry.

The Treasures of Marco Polo
-- a villanelle


The silver belt of a Tartar knight,
A crate of stones that could burn like wood,
A woman's headdress, heavy and bright --

These Marco Polo brought as his right
From China to Venice as he could.
The silver belt of a Tartar knight

He earned as keshigten  in a fight,
The Khan's reward for what he withstood.
A woman's headdress, heavy and bright,

Once graced a princess, love of his light,
But then she died in her motherhood.
The silver belt of a Tartar knight,

It shone with his grief by day and night.
Their son stayed behind; the Khan made good.
A woman's headdress, heavy and bright,

It burned with regret, a precious blight.
They weighed his heart as no treasures should:
The silver belt of a Tartar knight,
A woman's headdress, heavy and bright.

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Comments
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: July 4th, 2012 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, you made me cry with this one.

I wish someone would set it to music...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 4th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Aww...

>>Oh my, you made me cry with this one.<<

*proffers handkerchief*

Hey, you were the one who gave me a tragic prompt. The plot was all in there. ;)

>>I wish someone would set it to music...<<

Oh, that would be beautiful. It would sound good even a capella, but ideally I'd go for an iconic instrument of Italy and one of China. Probably mandolin for Italy, and a bamboo oboe or flute for China; instruments with a quiet tone that can be introspective or mournful.

My villanelles often make interesting song lyrics. There's kind of a 'hitch' toward the middle of the lines in this one, if you look at the syllable stresses, with a dactyl nestled amidst the iambs. That's why I went with villanelle instead of sonnet, along with the fact that you gave me two good lines and that usually makes me think of the villanelle form.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: July 4th, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aww...

>>Hey, you were the one who gave me a tragic prompt. The plot was all in there. ;)<<

Mea culpa, I know. ;-)
I'm an undercover romantic, and I've always had a soft spot for Marco.

>>Oh, that would be beautiful. It would sound good even a capella, but ideally I'd go for an iconic instrument of Italy and one of China. Probably mandolin for Italy, and a bamboo oboe or flute for China; instruments with a quiet tone that can be introspective or mournful.<<

Yes, maybe a 'stronger'theme played by the mandoline, something based on Italian Middle-Age music and a softer one played by the bamboo flute, like a tone heard from a distance, or in one's memories?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 4th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aww...

>>Mea culpa, I know. ;-)
I'm an undercover romantic, and I've always had a soft spot for Marco. <<

It shows. I like romantic stories too. When I was little, there was a miniseries about the adventures of Marco Polo on television. I watched it with my parents -- who are teachers -- and we had great fun talking about it. That was one of my earlier exposures to journey-stories, a style of narrative that I still enjoy. Every once in a while it crops up in my writing.

>>Yes, maybe a 'stronger' theme played by the mandoline, something based on Italian Middle-Age music and a softer one played by the bamboo flute, like a tone heard from a distance, or in one's memories?<<

That is a brilliant compositional idea.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: July 4th, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aww...

This one? :)). I was in high school when it was shown the first time, I think that series is one of the reasons why I chose to study Chinese (in Venice of all places); I was more than half in love with prince Chinkin (Leonard Nimoy as Achmet didn't hurt either).

>>That is a brilliant compositional idea.<<

Thank you (blushes), sadly I lack both the knowledge and the talent to turn it into an actual score.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 5th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aww...

I don't have my full bardic talents in this life either. Doesn't stop me from taking ideas as far as I can, though.
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