A Masked Ball in Venice

Un Ballo In Maschera ( A Venetian Masked Ball)  a Sonnet

Fingers of mist poke smoke up dark canals,
Lamp pools of light casts shadows all around.
Tall, shady shapes slink out from bacchanals.
Cloaked folk walk slowly past, without a sound.
Gondolas slide by, murky water laps;
Masked lovers touch, kiss in the bright moonlight.
Casanovas woo, laying lady traps,
dancing, drinking, making love this night.
Around cloistered courtyards, masked figures wait,
In marbled rooms, veiled Courtesans make fun.
Lute music wafts from the Doges estate,
The Venice Carnivale has now begun.
Guilty gente decide what their fate will be. 
Hoping all their sins will wash out to sea.

1 An Opera in 3 parts by Verdi.
2 The Doges(pronounced dozh is the equivalent of a Duke or Ducca
[3] gente f (plural genti) – people

Chinese Meditations - a Sestina

Information on this picture and the background to my poem follows the poem
Meditation: elements and seasons. (a sestina)

Tread soft and mindful steps into the wood
Dragons awake and set the east on fire.
Sun’s warming rays strike deep, damp, cold dark earth.       
 Incense scents the air, voices chant. Metal   
 pings bronze bell, disturbing temple water                           
 bowl, ripples spill and freeze in frozen air.

This sacred space with blossom scented air;  
finds azure dragon in an aspen wood,
stopped to drink and rest by clear still water.
Distant smoke twirls from an apple wood fire.
The harbinger of spring takes flight. Metal
tangs temple bell waking new springtime earth.
Bright vermillion bird descends to earth
from a sunrise sky, its wings beat warm air.                          
Temple priests praise Mars for summer birds. Fires
lit for solstice with incense, and spiced wood,
smoulder in bronze stoves for prayers. Metal
tings brass bowls creating rippled water.

Yellow dragon drinks from the temple water.
Saturn calms natures growth, soothes troubled earth.
On crisp white mountain tops he hears metal
clinking temple bells. Curtains of damp air
wash moss, helping ripen, pine and beech wood,
trees sigh as priests chop logs for sacred fires.

White tiger roars in blowing autumn fire,                              
twirling swirling leaves that drift on water.
Maples pave a golden path to the wood.                                           
Priests clear temple grounds of windswept earth
and acknowledge scents of autumn in the air.                                   
Temple bells ring out, brass against metal.                                                                                                                                                                             
Black tortoise, brings in ice. His cold metal                                                  
sword seals sacred temple gates. Priests light fires
of scented pine for burners warming air.                                                       
Winter dragon swims through frozen water,
to pray safe keeping for the winter earth,                                                      
mindful and still he prays in sacred woods.  

In incensed air, temple priests light small fires
of cherry wood. Holding bowls of metal,
struck from earth, they bathe in sacred water.

copyright Diana Leighton May 2012

Qiu Chuji (Chinese: 丘處機; Taoist name 長春 meaning "Perpetual Spring", aka Kiu Chang Chun or Ch’iu Ch’ang Chun, 1148 - 1227 AD) was a Complete Reality School Taoist and the most famous of Wang Chongyang's seven disciples, or Seven Immortals. He founded the Dragon's Gate (Lung Men) School of Taoism, one of the 7 branches of the Northern School of Complete Reality Taoism.
In 1180, Qiu Chuji came to the Dragon Gate Mountain (龍門山) in Longzhou (隴州). Seeing the beautiful scenery, quiet surroundings, natural caves, and springs and hearing that immortal Lou Jing of the Han dynasty once cultivated himself in this place, Qiu decided to settle here. After selecting a cave as his residence he went on with his Cultivation and Refinement (修煉) for 6 years, using the methods inherited from his master, Wang Chongyang.
Qiu Chuji read and studied Taoist scriptures carefully. He found a phrase in the Book of the Inner Landscape of the Yellow Court (黃庭內景經) that read "if staying awake day and night, one achieves perfection and can remain unperturbed even under lightning and thunders". Qiu forced himself not to sleep at night and finally succeeded. Henceforth Qiu never lay down at night and rested simply by Sitting in Meditation (打坐) and Entering Tranquility (入靜). He left Dragon Gate Mountain in 1186.