Wednesday, July 8, 2015


His small fat body laid away
Alongside Sheffields sleeping,
Or so they mostly hoped,
In their family graveyard in Sussex,
The ghost of Edward Gibbon
Having hurried back across the Channel
And then through Europe.
Wandered around
Lausanne and then
Haunted Susanne Curchod's daughter
For three and a half weeks.
Processing across the
He saw
Walpole's dog's ghost
Who had joined the pack of wolves
Which had eaten it. (He thought it smiled
To see him but knew he lacked the art
To easily interpret canine thoughts.)
He came to rest among the ruins
Of the Capitol. There, he watched trees
Pushing through the stones
And composed seven hundred footnotes
To add to The Decline and Fall
Should he find himself once more alive.

Some of the friars who lived and prayed
Where Jupiter had been worshipped
Noticed the small ghost, always outside
Even in the chill November rains.
He replied courteously when spoken to
In fluent Latin, with an English accent
And was not dispelled by signs or water
The custos regiminis, a scholar of sorts,
Declared it was an offense against learning
To leave so distinguished a ghost
Outside in the harsh Roman weather.
Calling him "brother ghost," the abbot
Insisted that Gibbon come indoors.
When French troops turned the friars out
In 1797, Gibbon was still among them.

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