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Consolation

 How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets, fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.
There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous domes and there is no need to memorize a succession of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon's little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.
How much better to command the simple precinct of home than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps? Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera eager to eat the world one monument at a time? Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice, I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress known as Dot.
I will slide into the flow of the morning paper, all language barriers down, rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.
And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car as if it were the great car of English itself and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

Poem by Billy Collins
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