DePfeffelschrift PAGE TWENTY-TWO : Anne Berkeley

Queen of Spleen  
after Baudelaire

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…’

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.

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