Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Two poems by John Greening


    Villa D’Este


More water, extravagant
upshootings and downpourings
of it, unbottled from the
veins of a Borgia. Such force
and power — though to what end

other than to cool the minds
of those overheating here
in the future? Let it rush
and hiss and chuckle and spray
its optimistic excess

down the terraces of five
centuries. Though even Liszt
baulks at so many manuals
below the organ fountain
and though guides simply give up

let it go on running down
from Tivoli into our
trivial hollow ways and
leaden pipework. Just watch us
hold our phones out for the stuff.


    On a theme from Marcus Aurelius

to Stuart Henson


But what's the harm in hoping fame might come?
'It will distract you,' says Aurelius,
as Google magnifies him on his horse
in his own gallery. 'The gulf of time
before and after, not a trivial name,
is what you should consider.' Loud applause.
And so his name and fame come down to us,
insisting that a thumb is just a thumb
whichever way it turns, and though you're spent
and tangled in a gory net with bits
of cat and little hope but a mangled prayer,
while he's in laurelled white and gold up there,
hailed by the masses, one life's what he gets,
like yours, no more or less significant.



John will be reading at an hour-long Wild Court showcase at this year’s Poetry in Aldeburgh festival. This free event – also featuring fellow Wild Court contributors Niall Campbell, Helen Calcutt and Will Stone – will take place on Friday 8th November at 3.30pm in the Peter Pears Gallery. More details on the festival programme here. John’s recently-published new collection, The Silence, is available to buy here.