Once, a middling kingdom was ruled by a square-head King, the Heir of which was Graced with a hexagonal chin, his mother being a Queenly bundle of Pentacles. Of middling quality, the realm’s scope was not large. Of smallish area, its peasants were coarse, their brows lined with milled earth, their hearths black-baked and mottled. The King’s beard had quit pushing some four years before. Then his masons had planted a cubed icon in bronze on a pyramidal plinth, an effect so alluring the King had at once churned to burp:
“And so our Reign can be never changed –
I must keep myself Curtained,
One rock my True Face,
Engraved Laws my Sole Speech.”
The King’s four bronze faces kept the peasants on watch.
At the edge of one side, a bare fountain.
Stone flowers, clear streamlets of well-water for washing.
Only girls seemed to bother
with that, as boys dusted their hats, the women crouched over pestles of seasoned clay, the men’s grime slipping, and salting, that day’s batch with clean sweat.
The Queen? She was there; er,er,er::; ,,“Over There” ,rather, still middling Fair, but Willful and Ill-Nourished. Since the King had ceased moving it had become unbecoming to be seen to eat, so as not to Risk Swollen Pentacles. Her Prince had a Firm nose which came to a Point, when Cocked from the Tower, and seen from below. In this way his Fine Chin was obscured, in fact it was Positively Triangulated:
“Look at them all!” he declaimed in discovery,
“A fine thrum! Ha! Let’s call them ‘thumb-faces!’
“What do you think of it, Squirrel?”
“Fine meat-minds, from here at peace
Those Easy Least,
Brining their hidings
In those ruts
Withall Lax Eyes
And Dull Snoots
Rooting Round in the Refuse”
The Squire nodded squirrelly.
“You’ve a way with words, my lord,” spoke the Tutor with gravity.
The Prince bellowed:
“I shall paint them! Let us grant them a Picture –
Yes, our Point of View on Top of Our Battlement.
Wait till Father dies! Yes, it shall be a Framed Jubilee.”
This ” ‘Aesthetic Totality’ “ was what deposed Him from His Arch, down the crooked-bricked whirl of stepped lime, past Charwoman, past Fletcher, and finally past Groom, beneath the sharp rust of the Gate, across Drawbridge and out, with the Sun past its Height, a stretched canvas wedged as by a studied insouciance under the Thinned Joint of a shoulder, and a Horsehair Brush in the Belt of his Tunic, across the Parade Ground past the Smith’s open shop.
“Your Highness, I hail you,” the Smith promptly said, and then,
“Boys! Halt the bellows!”
“We have noble company!
Fetch me the water-pail,
My ember needs quenching.”
And so the boys did.
The pail threw white steam.
The Smith drew his hand back.
He threw his hammer one hand’s breadth.
The canvas was loosed.
The horsehair was curled, then it bent.
“Quickly spent! Just another Bothered Bosh
Boiled off into a pink Bit of Burning,”
said the Sexton.
“Nothing personal, Prince, you had a Fine Skull once. Not as Square as your Father’s. Easy Come, Easy Go. So Says the Queen.” “Which Queen?” “The Black Queen.”
Drain the moat, boys and girls. Show’s over.
Now bend your knees.
Now stand up.
CLOWN: WHICH CAME FIRST, THE COCK OR THE ROOSTER?