“Vancouver” – Philip Resnick

"Crosswalk" - Fred Herzog

Crosswalk (1960)

Fred Herzog


not many poems exalt a city, the first
for me was Sandburg’s Chicago, a
far cry from Shelley, Byron, Keats,
and finally something that I could
sink my teeth into – though pretty,
the earlier, Romantic, poems had
been prissy, effete, skylarks,
Grecian urns, the irrelevant fall of
Babylon to the Assyrians
to me

– a lot of festooned air, I thought,
signifying nearly nothing, despite,
afterwards, its often very clever,
indeed truly inspiring, aphorisms

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

for instance

but I was young then, have gotten through
Romanticism’s idiosyncratic pretensions
to its noble universal heart, maybe ‘ve
even picked up a few of its literary
excesses since, what do you think

here’s one, right up there with Chicago“,
about Vancouver this time, my city

and it’s a dandy, I think

come visit




The most liveable city on the planet, they say,
which seems true enough on a mid-August afternoon,
sailboats dotting the bay,
picknickers at crowded beaches
competing for summer heat
and precious square centimetres of sand.
Sunlight casts its spell,
and hearing over and over again
how wonderful you are
has a hypnotic ring to it,
much like lovers gently rocking
to rhythms of the midnight hour
or first sight of running water to the parched.
We who grow old here
have like Cavafy‘s Alexandrians
learned to treat such messages with suspicion.
Those bereft of love
find little compassion betwixt concrete condo towers,
those with few means dwell in the same Inferno’s circles
as the bereft of other cities,
and those in hawk to the god of greed
are no less addicted for living in the suburbs of insatiability.

Philip Resnick