Allegory of Good and Bad Government

This is the slow train across Tuscany
The one that does not spend its life scuttling through tunnels
But instead skims the ridges, revealing
Tilled fields, gentle valleys, distant mountains,
Like the backdrop to a Renaissance painting
The trees bending gracefully,
The well-tended vines, the silver olives,
Swallows dipping, grouse sidling,
A brown horse looks up, curious, and goes back to grazing,
Sheep gleaning a harvested grainfield
Little pink hilltowns perched on their eminences,
The clouds, in glorious majesty,
Rolling over it all and letting
Spear-shafts of light shine down
To illuminate a wall of golden stone and a fig tree.

Next day, I see that Lorenzetti saw precisely this
Seven hundred years ago, these hills, this countryside
That feed the peaceful city that deserves them
These trees, these farms, these undulating fields,
He painted knowing what peace was, that it means
People working together to build a roof
And dancing in the streets, and seeking justice,
Better, finding it fairly given,
The spotted pig fattened for table, and the table laid,
The joy of life and living, as he knew
The burned harvest and the broken trust
And painted them on the opposing wall.
So in seven hundred years we’ve come this far
That at his vision of Siena’s peace
I weep because I want it for the world.

30th August 2021, Siena