Tuesday, July 14, 2015


The sea coal fires make London fogs
Thicker, more palpable, than all others
Condensing sometimes into a dog or hippogriff
Or megalosaurus, silently patrolling the streets
Until, for a while, the fog consents to lift.
Tonight, the fog has made a constable
With a tipstaff and an unlit lantern
(Fog has no love for fire and casually extinguishes
Unwary streetlamps that sputter too proudly)
Fog scorns detail but works to a large scale
So the constable is 8 feet tall. Still, he is puny
Compared to the giant nude statue of Napoleon
Who stands in Portland Terrace, looking up
"Mon ami," says the statue, "I break no laws here
Save those of probability and you, I think,
Are not innocent of that either. Just now,
On the world’s other side, the Emperor has died
Of poison, of boredom, of grief. When great men die
Corsica, the brothers of death come with tapers
And muffled drums, sweeping through the streets
Clearing the way for his passage. It would be ungracious
For the Emperor's soul not to bid
Ajaccio farewell
And I believe I will see it flying across the moon's face.
You, my friend, will give benighted drunks nightmares
And then vanish back into the fog that made you.
Dawn will find me in my usual place at Apsley House
Wellington will scowl to see again
How calm and regal Canova made me.
Neither of us is here; stand watch with me
Who knows but that the Emperor will notice us
Saluting him amidst his favorite enemies?"

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