Tuesday Poem: Heidelberg

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You have so many colours,
My Heidelberg,
My borrowed patch of home,
And I can see them all, as unchanged
As if I felt your cobbles still beneath my feet.
I see the Chrome Green of your wooded hillsides,
The hillscape of your rooftops,
Cadmium Scarlet rubbing shoulders with Blue Black;
I see the Jesuit harmonies
Of Alzarin Crimson, Naples Yellow and Zinc White
Plunged deep within your Protestant soul.
And then your springtime trees in blossom:
Iridescent White for the almonds, the first to flower,
Rose Madder for the cherries,
Permanent Carmine for the plums …
But if I had to choose a single colour for you,
You long-lost capital of a vanished land,
It could only be your red sandstone,
The Terra Rosa of your castle built on sand,
Glowing in the long, long, valley light,
Adored and adorned and then blown apart,
Like a heritage, a home,
A family, a heart.

By Jonathan Steffen


First published in Poetic Pilgrimages, James Hogg at Eighty, Poetry Salzburg 2011, and The Colour of Love, Acumen Publications 2011

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