Monday, July 13, 2015


Having seen Don Giovanni the night before
At the King's Theatre, in Ayrton's production,
And then drunk far too much with Harriet Wilson
The Iron Duke woke up feeling rusty. He descended
Very carefully, taking  great care that his head
Did not fall off. He had woken up in tears
For the violin -- the violin, of all things! --
That he’d burnt in 1792 when he and music
Had determined to part ways. As always
Canova’s damned statue was waiting for him.
If a grateful nation must give him naked statues
Why not, say, the one of the Princess Borghese
Or the Three Graces? No one with a hangover
Should have to face 11 feet of naked marble Napoleon.
As always, he nodded to the statue as he went by
Refusing to be cowed. The statue smirked
Silently. "The Commendatore's statue," the Duke said,
"Spoke sixteen to the dozen; he sang; I believe
He would have danced too, given the right cue
But you! A grimace sometimes; a raised brow
Or sneer of cold command, but never a word."
The statue opened his mouth then shut it again.
"Had the Emperor won at Waterloo," he thought
"And France, relieved and joyous, had given him
Some preposterous statue of the Great Duke
He would never have exhibited it with only a fig leaf
Improbably and inadequately preserve its modesty."

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