Thursday, May 31, 2018

Emperor Constantine’s colossal finger has been found in Paris

The head is in the Louvre
The torso’s in the Met
They’re not sure where the left leg is
They haven’t found it yet

The right arm’s in Chicago
The other’s not been seen
Since tombaroli sold it 
in 1817

The penis went to Oxford 
as a Grand Tour souvenir
The Freud House in North London
has an ankle and an ear

Now the Louvre’s found a bit 
of Constantine, they think, 
a giant index finger
that’s bound to cause a stink

For body parts they once acquired 
in Empire’s golden age
are weapons now in culture wars
that rumble, roil and rage

Rodin loved those fragments
those marble odds and sods 
making from that broken stuff
his twisting, limbless gods

The Benin bronzes once adorned 
the Oba’s royal throne
but British soldiers sacked the place 
and took them all back home  

Picasso too loved ancient junk
and told his entourage
“There’s all of Egypt in that foot,
It’s not just bricolage.”

The treasures from the Parthenon,
were Greece’s noble pride
'til syphilitic Elgin 
dissembled, bribed and lied

then smashed them into pieces
and shipped them back by sea
to live in gloomy darkness
in Duveen’s Bloomsbury
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“I went to a museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums.” (US comedian Steven Wright, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MxYoxs9UIc)




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