Power is aristocratic here

The opening line of this section of Ancient Light is historical fact.  Seemed kind of fitting for this meditation on human frailty & Henryesque folly.

       They were playing Henry the 8th when the Globe 
       burned down.  No one to telephone then;
       his line had already gone dead.  Shakespearean 
       turgidity – lot of old bathrobes in a bathtub.
       And I too was tolled before my time. 
       Overdone and overdrawn, the dim librarian 
       tired himself out, flandering over and yon 
       across the expanding metroverse, so trim
       and fat for Christmas – underemployed 
       American turkey lost in the wrong holiday 
       or underwriting some unwritten lawyer's lay: 
       "idle pens lace canyons have enjoyed."
       And his heart finds no rest.  Squandered,
       a life spent prodigal toward no end;
       a father back in Providence, but only pretend; 
       poet-laughingstock, he wandered, wandered,
       happy, happy to be away, but whittled down.
       A splinter from a Thames-borne vegetable crate. 
       Woodchip, waterlogged firewood, too late
       for Roger's project (or the 1666 one).
       And all around, in every swirling neighborhood, 
       the City roared its glorious Time is Now.
       From blueskinned Briton to Imperial Scow 
       swift energies contrived – congealed and flowed –
       a Monument – an image, multiform;
       that one-armed admiral in his tricorn hat 
       astride the tallest pillar in the realm – now 
       that was a magnet (for the photostorm).
       And nothing is real, except this frenzied splurge. 
       The city swallows up the flitting toothpick, 
       disappears him.  Power is aristocratic, here –
       a flash of showering silver bulbs.  A dirge.

Globe Theatre, circa 2003

Shakespeare's Henry VIII

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