Poetry inspired by Sicily: A place of elephants, lions and bears

Lions and bears post

My grandparent’s gardens are gone
like so many poetic laments about lost paradises
nothing of their cultivated land
where father, son, mother and daughter lived
the flowering trees are a memory
recalled by a dying generation
no more sustenance or song
only the shadows of a once fertile island

Ancient olive groves gradually enveloped by slithering vines
slowly strangled hazelnut trees blossoming in the spring
the shadows of disappearing golden gardens
soon everything will be erased by the choking weeds
abandoned in the flow of time
to become forests once again

They left behind youth, families and home
to follow dreams, leaving a past filled with memories
compelled by the constraints of poverty, desperation and ambition
the land left untended by their hands
overwhelmed by loss the oasis is being erased by wilderness.
with no one left to stop the decay

Our ancestors gardens will be like so many other lost empires
we are destined to forget the seeds they planted
like so many graveyards left to themselves
Trincaria will become savage again
a land of hunters and hunted

Once more an ancient home for the beasts
a place of elephants, lions and bears
we will discover the cyclops skulls left behind
and wonder if the myths are true.

         – for my Sicilian grandparents Giuseppe and Carmela Bongiovanni

Savage sicily

Today I thought I’d try something different and share a little of my creative writing.

Poetry is my first love, it is where my ideas come from, yet I have never found a place for it, apart from submissions to obscure literary magazines throughout the years.

I’m currently working on the content for a new creative writing blog which will be the home not only for my interest in poetry but also music, books and conversations. I’ll be sure to let you know the details as soon as it’s all finished and launched.

This is one poem I thought I’d include in my first book, but I’ve had to cut out. As for those who have been following my blog for a while would know, I’m still working on my book, a travel memoir which I’m redrafting and will be self publishing as soon as I raise the funds.

I’ve been thinking and remembering my dearly loved Sicilian grandparents this week, as they both passed away in this period, one nine years ago, the other last year. I thought I’d share a poem which was inspired by them and other Italian immigrants. Sadly their’s is a generation which is slowly fading away, yet I feel their spirit and energy is still very much a part of me.

This poem is inspired by the historical fact that Sicily was once physically a part of North Africa and up until ancient Roman times the island was filled with natural forests inhabited by mini elephants, lions, bears and many other fascinating wild animals which have since disappeared.

The Sicily of my Grandparents was the opposite to this, filled with fertile gardens, abundant fruits and a vibrant agricultural tradition which today has been mostly abandoned. Sadly much of Sicily is destined to return to its ancient abandoned state.

There are many references to mythology, the Sicilian poetic school of the middle ages and other elements which reflect the innate sadness and ancient history of Sicily. The cyclop’s skull image refers to the archeological discovery of mini elephant skulls, which were mistaken as the remains of these mythological creatures.

6 thoughts on “Poetry inspired by Sicily: A place of elephants, lions and bears

  1. Hi Rochelle I enjoyed this post, quite lyrical and a bit sad. I know exactly what you mean. We never managed to meet up in San Fratello on Good Friday. Did you go? We were there, late afternoon until 5pm. What a unique, strange festivity that is. My family were totally bewildered. Best wishes Antonio Casella

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Salve Antonio, Happy you enjoyed my poem, Sicily can be a sad place. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to make it this year, my little boy ended up getting sick. San Fratello on Good Friday is pretty insane, the first time I saw it all, it was totally confusing. So happy you made it. We much catch up for a coffee the next time I’m in Perth. All the best to you too.😊

  2. Yes I do! Enjoy all the creativity you give us, so please continue. And get that travelbook underway too. I have recommended your ‘Housewife’ book to many friends, all of whom have enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks, it’s always a pleasure to read your comments. The book is finished, just have to do a final edit and I’ll end up doing print on demand, I’ll let you know. Oh and the Sicilian House wife book was wonderful, it’s sad that Veronica isn’t living here anymore, I feel as if I’m missing a friend.

    1. Thanks so much. I have written so much poetry over the years and thought I should start sharing some of it. It seems a lot of people love poetry 😃

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