Surprising salvation

Sometimes I miss Italy more than I can stand. Sometimes I get sick with nostalgia; it's not that it was easy to be in Italy but it was safe. (Of course I reconstruct the past. We have to.)

I wasn't supposed to end up in Italy. I had no ties there. After a somewhat-awful first year at college, I figured I needed to transfer - until I found the Brunnenburg program. Students lived in the castle croft, were taught by Ezra Pound's daughter and grandson, and worked on the castle vinyard. I was sold. The following fall, I applied, but the whole process seemed like a joke to me; I was going to Italy, and I knew it more than I had really known anything before. I remember arriving at the castle, dead of night after a day of waiting in the Flughafen M√ľnchen, turned around after having traveled by bus to Dorf Tirol, then walking down the road to Schloss Brunnenburg itself. I remember sitting in the living room against the wall, feeling exhausted and that peculiar kind of claustrophobia engendered by sky-touching mountains. More than that, I felt home.

My little croft room remains one of my favorite places I've lived, and it seemed to me like I could go on living there forever, or at least longer than the semester I was there. All I wanted was to hole up, write poetry (and work on my German), and take long walks exploring the Alpine villages. I wanted to read the Cantos and the Odyssey until they became part of me. Our first full day there, we toured the castle and the two English majors on the trip - Anna and myself - nearly swooned over the walls and walls of bookshelves. We were taught the Cantos by Ezra Pound's daughter, who tried (and succeeded, in a few instances) to instill a love for them in us; her son taught us about agro-archeology and medieval literature; and finally, our faculty leader taught us wilderness medicine.


I wrote most of that last week sometime, and while I am usually in a state of missing Italy, it's not always as strong as that. It has been a little over three years since I flew back over the Atlantic, reading The Passion by Jeanette Winterson and missing Venice (and the rest of it) with everything I had. I've lost the thread of that earlier post and now it's hard for me to write about Italy, because there is so much to say. Italy was my growing up, in some ways, and it was certainly my salvation. You'll hear more about Italy, I'm sure, but for now, enjoy Schloss Brunnenburg:

What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage

(thanks to Ezra Pound, for all of it, but especially the above passage from the Cantos)


  1. That room looks AWESOME. I can definitely see the appeal.

  2. Yeah, it was pretty tiny (though not the tiniest room there!), but also very homey.

  3. you've shown me picture before, but seriously-- that room looks so amazing.

    you made me go (as i do, sometimes), "ahhh, praha."


  4. Yeah, Prague is amazing too. I guess really what I miss is Europe?

  5. The idea that what we love well is our true heritage is a wonder to ponder. Thank you for that. A lozenge to carry aorund and let melt, it's so very provocative.

  6. Marion, hi! Yeah, despite everything else, Ezra Pound really was quite an amazing poet. I highly recommend especially the Pizan Cantos.