Old Calabria By Norman Douglas

 -  Trembling grasses of many kinds, rue,
asphodel, thyme, the wild asparagus, a diminutive blue iris, as well as
patches of - Page 20
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Trembling Grasses Of Many Kinds, Rue, Asphodel, Thyme, The Wild Asparagus, A Diminutive Blue Iris, As Well As Patches Of Saxifrage That Deck The Stone With A Brilliant Enamel Of Red And Yellow.

This wild beauty makes one think how much better the graceful wrought-iron balconies of the town would look

If enlivened with blossoms, with pendent carnations or pelargonium; but there is no great display of these things; the deficiency of water is a characteristic of the place; it is a flowerless and songless city. The only good drinking-water is that which is bottled at the mineral springs of Monte Vulture and sold cheaply enough all over the country. And the mass of the country people have small charm of feature. Their faces seem to have been chopped with a hatchet into masks of sombre virility; a hard life amid burning limestone deserts is reflected in their countenances.

None the less, they have a public garden; even more immature than that of Lucera, but testifying to greater taste. Its situation, covering a forlorn semicircular tract of ground about the old Anjou castle, is a priori a good one. But when the trees are fully grown, it will be impossible to see this fine ruin save at quite close quarters - just across the moat.

I lamented this fact to a solitary gentleman who was strolling about here and who replied, upon due deliberation:

"One cannot have everything."

Then he added, as a suggestive afterthought:

"Inasmuch as one thing sometimes excludes another."

I pause, to observe parenthetically that this habit of uttering platitudes in the grand manner as though disclosing an idea of vital novelty (which Charles Lamb, poor fellow, thought peculiar to natives of Scotland) is as common among Italians as among Englishmen.

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