F W N Wright
New Zealand

F W N Wright is a Wellington poet, publisher (Original Books) and critic. He has published over 500 books of poetry and criticism. His major project is the epic poem, The Alexandrians. In 2003 he contributed the Foreword to Michael O’Leary’s selected poems, Toku Tinihanga, published by HeadworX.

Link to Brentley.com

We travelled from Mangatainoka to Naples ;
Apples comparing with apples.


So reached at dusk opulent Naples :
Millennia long preserve of nobles ;
As with Virgil great art enables.



Came settlers ; on a rugged coast
Erecting cities for prestige
And for security stage by stage
At greater and yet greater cost ;
Their motivation : to impress
Natives and visitors alike ;
So on themselves as all the rest
Imposed an age enduring look.
Came conquerors from inland or
Abroad ; whose rule survives its day ;
Every Caesar, Alexander
Leaving relics of his stay.
Spared all but natural disasters ;
Secure in local style and verve
The centuries people survive ;
Regardless how the world mass stirs.
However confident and smug
As first for concrete, brick and dome
All undergo the common doom
As we in traffic jams and smog.

Blood red at dusk
Sinks the sun disk.


Something I saw in Naples ; which
I do not understand ; but watch
Closely ; as an historical notion
Works out in my imagination.
How comes it ? since unification
Of Italy a city for
Two thousand years of such occasion
Seems : so much out of it to fare.
A city great for trade and produce
Finds manufacture an odd use
Of land ; that offers no protection
To installations of production.
What industrialist would be so bold ?
On a live volcano’s slopes to build
At risk of extreme cataclysm
In earthquake and in pyroclasm.
This lack of industry enables :
To flourish as a garden Naples.
So from my childhood have I seen :
Depicted such and such a scene.
A garden city with pines in look
Umbrella like and pillar like
Do iconographers portray
Naples sans heavy industry.


Greek settlers held many an acre
In Egypt Cyrenaica
South Italy and lesser spots ;
All interlinking through sea ports.
Cultural influences spread
Therethrough between them and abroad.
But though it was the last : to found ;
The influence the most profound,
In every way phenomenal
Had Alexandria on the Nile.
Neither did Greek nor did barbarian
Lack enterprise or social power.
But each gave out design, technique ;
As each took in image, knick knack.
But Alexandria we must
For cultural exchange rate most.
Whence came as building sleeker slicker
Administrative basilica ?
To latterday lookers church shaped ;
If not from Ptolemaic Egypt.
Greeks in the west fulfilled the role :
To close ; open other’s control.
Were Carthaginians, Etruscans
The former ; the latter Latins, Oscans.