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Letter: Venetian verses for a long-gone lamp

Sir: While sympathising totally with your correspondent Claudia de Lotbiniere (Letters; 'Venice with a plague of garish toadstools', 9 July) about the sudden appearance on the Venetian causeway of a great many awful blue and yellow lamps, it is the disappearance of just one Venetian lamp that concerns me.

Until recently, on the Punta della Dogana, stood a lone lamp standard bearing the singular inscription:

Fonderia di Ferro in Venezia di Theodor e Hasselquist.

The lamp and its makers inspired a delightful poem by the late John Sparrow. This in turn inspired replies in verse by John Julius Norwich and Peter Lauritzen.

While John Sparrow ('When I cross the last lagoon . . ., Be they there to light me home, Shining from the farther shore, Hasselquist and Theodor') may well now know the whereabouts of the lamp, inquiries by the other two poets and by the undersigned unpoetical Venetophile have been unsuccessful.

Perhaps Mr Berlusconi can help.

Yours faithfully,


London, SW6

10 July