Queen of Spleen
We are like the Queen of a realm of rain,
rich but rickety, a touristic ruin
as weary of fawning yes-men, experts,
as we are of lap dogs and exotic pets.
Nothing delights us: neither petrol queues
nor mounting death tolls on the evening news.
The booster bombast of our Brexiteer
stirs in our ennui not the slightest ardour.
Our heraldic brocades enshroud a pit
where one takes no joy from a TikTok wit
whatever tricks he’s got up his sleeve
to tickle one’s lizard spirit alive.
Not gold, not lead, not even sense – in vain
the alchemist tinkers with Blighty’s brain.
Not even the bloodbaths inherited
from Empire – the old fools remember it –
can warm and revive a corpse so rotten
its veins flow green with something we’ve forgotten.
Source: Baudelaire, Spleen ‘Je suis comme le roi…’ https://fleursdumal.org/poem/160
Anne Berkeley’s The Men from Praga was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney first collection prize. She performed widely with The Joy of Six and now lives in semi-permanent rage near Cambridge.