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The Old Country

by Mel Waldman

Come to the Old Country, Busch Gardens, a pristine paradise of archaic illusion, where solitary beings suddenly wear beatific smiles and soon are not alone. Come.

Come to the Old Country, Beauty’s blessing, a swirling, seraphic Spirit and the Loch Ness Monster too, gentle and fierce Chimera calling you, in its metamorphosis, calling, as it passes through Phantasmagoria, and reveals a primeval Europe, far away, but near, nestled in Williamsburg, Virginia, America’s past. Come.

I travel across romantic Europe, drift through the ancient village of San Marco, with its Roman arched porches and Greek Corinthian columns, wander into the Plaza, filled with fountains and sumptuous statuary, and inevitably, discover the Italian theater, an esthetic explosion, in the Elysian village. I cross a drawbridge into medieval Hastings, and enter a castle, haunted, perhaps, by the ghost of a feudal lord.

When I arrive in Banbury Cross, an unreal Elizabethan hamlet, I contemplate Big Ben, the town clock in a small tower of the Square. I cross cobblestone streets, pass quaint shops, and come to the Globe Theater. On the entrance sign, Atlas holds the world and beckons me. I enter.

Later, I travel magically through time and space and listen to joyous music in Das Festhaus (a magnificent festival hall, reminiscent of the Munich music halls) in Oktoberfest (a blessed place named for a time of festivals which began at the beginning of the 19th Century). Then I see the grand 17th Century Glockenspiel, a three-story moving, musical clock in Rhinefeld. And I watch its miniature wooden creatures — dancing criers on the balcony stage, knights on horseback, soldiers, and heralds — move to the music every hour or quarter hour.

When I leave the Old Country’s Germany, I drift again, until I discover a French village of the late 1800’s. Under a sultry sun, I sit at a street café in French Aquitaine and write the poem “The Old Country.”

Soon, I take a cruise on the Rhine River, followed by a ride on Balmoral Castle, a timeless train, light blue with silver stripes, revealing Old Europe. And having traveled through Illusion, I return to a reality transformed by my magical journey to Yesterday.

Now Fantasy is a perpetual place whose Truth touches me. And its Beauty blesses and anoints me with Vision in a poignant moment of medieval alchemy. I am free to become more, much more than I have ever been, and see clearly the miracle of the Old Country.

I am free to experience the joy of my being, even if I must pretend that my dark existence is as light and cheerful as a day in Busch Gardens. Indeed, I am free to twist and shape reality as long as I believe in impossible dreams and know that truth is open to interpretation at the end of the day, after a trip through the Old Country.

Copyright © 2008 by Mel Waldman

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