for Stuart Henson
So Petrarch lived here? First saw Laura here,
invented the sonnet and began a craze
that turned to ‘tyranny’ (your word). These days
they’re hardly de rigueur, but there’s the fear
that if you can’t balance seven hundred years
on fourteen lines and five rhymes, then the Muse
will leave for Tony Harrison. There she goes.
But you and I have learned by now to steer
a steady course up Petrarch’s mountain track
or — better metaphor — across the Rhône
beside that Pont that keeps on reaching for
a rhyme on its far bank. We know the knack
of picking a wind, too: not one that’s blown
infernos; one that gently tries the door.