Written in ‘Murray’s Handbook’ while the band in the Piazza San Marco was playing the Tarantella from Masanielio.
All that the tourist can dream of or hear about,
Crowds on your sight as you carelessly peer about,
Quaint water streets you so carefully steer about,
See the Rialto, and Square of St. Mark!
Floating in gondolas, laughing and jollity,
Cyprian wine of the very best quality,
At Florian’s caffè—mid fun and frivolity—
Venice delightful from daylight to dark!
Musicians in plenty,
Play ‘Ecco ridente,’
or ‘Com’è gentil,’ in the still summer night;
If you’re in a hurry,
Pray look in your Murray—
You’ll find his description is perfectly right!
Albergo Reale and English society,
Bric-a-brac shops in their endless variety,
Plenty of pigeons not fearful of pie-ety,
Flutter and peck ‘neath the bluest of skies.
Dreaming in Venice? Ah, wildest of fallacies—
Bronzes and sculpture, mosaics and chalices,
Convents and churches and prisons and palaces,
See as you stand on the grim Bridge of Sighs!
The ballads of Byron,
You’ll find will environ
The Doges and dodges and Brides of the Sea.
Don’t get in a flurry,
But read it in Murray—
If you don’t care about it, then listen to me!
Thousands of thirsty mosquitoes are biting one,
Silvery moonlight is ever delighting one,
Music and mirth every moment inviting one—
Dreary old London we quickly forget!
Shylock and Portia—in short, the whole kit of ‘em,
Readers of Shakespeare recall ev’ry bit of ‘em;
Troublesome guides, you can never get quit of ‘em—
Pictures by titian and old Tintoret!
The sock and the buskin,
With Rogers and Ruskin,
Are mixed in a muddle with palace and sight!
It may be a worry,
But don’t forget Murray,
He’ll throw on your darkness some excellent light!
Caffè Florian, Venezia
© Joseph Ashby-Sterry