The Monarch's Mortal Miasma
(On reading of
William Duffield (1816-63), an artist who
lost his sense of smell and whose final
illness was attributed to the putrefaction of
a stag he was painting in his studio.)
Commissioned by some arriviste
Who'd done well out of railway stock,
They hoisted up the once proud beast
To face the palette, brush and smock.
Though what there daily gained in size
Might soon dim Landseer’s reputation,
The summer brought its heat and flies,
With ice mere partial mitigation
Could not keen eyes replace the nose,
Or did Art blind, its flame perfervid,
As from his bloated model rose
That fatal odour, rotting cervid?
But no, when once the Fates decide
Farewell to dreams, and Thames-ignition.
The deer first, then the painter, died,
United in decomposition.
If you have any thoughts on this poem,
would be pleased to hear them.