Half Way up Etna – a poem by Simon Fletcher

Half Way up Etna

“Mind is the spell which governs earth and heaven”

Empedocles on Etna, (Act 1, Scene 2)

Matthew Arnold

I’ve come this far, my mind is clear;
there’s nothing left to savour now,

and though a death in Etna’s fire
is fearful yet I’ve made my choice.

My many friends have counselled me
to think again and weigh their love,

so, do I really want to crack
life’s riddle here and not go back?


The tidy vineyards flecked with green
in pale spring sunlight spoke to me,

the forests filled with bird song, too,
reminded me of happier days,

but when I reached the lava fields
I recognised life’s transience

and what it must be like to flair
back into dust and fiery air.


But, at six thousand feet I sense
a second wind, have second thoughts.

The view is fine below, the land,
the olive farms, contented lives;

the flowers of April nearly break
my heart with thoughts of love and loss.

Perhaps I’ll rest and go back down:
the risk is being thought a clown.

Simon Fletcher is widely published and is currently a ‘Poet on Loan’ in West Midland Libraries (ACE-funded).  He runs monthly live literature events and also tutors for the Workers’ Educational Association.  Author of 4 full collections, his most recent, Close to Home, was published by Headland, 2015. (www.simonfletcher.net)

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