L’Autrichienne

Image by Wafaa Jawed

The Austrian Bitch Meets Her Death, October 14, 1793

This cabinet is formed of gold
And pearl and crystal shining bright,
And within it opens into a world
And a little lovely moony night.
– from “The Crystal Cabinet,” William Blake (1800-1804)


Et voilà!

Madame la Guillotine fait son travail
Pinched blue lips and upturned eyes
La veuve Capet shakes October with
The even chimes of midi quart
Playing upon her ears, sounds of old
Herr Glück’s harpsichord
Swelling in her chest, plucking tendons
Now laid bare at the neck: her head rolls.
This cabinet is formed of gold,

Dainty trinket queen –
MA inlaid, lacquered catching light
Crafted, carved, with starving sweat
Seulement pour la reine
(La maudite Autrichienne)
A sleight of hand, a hand in sight
Madame la Guillotine, her blade mocks
The silver plate at Versailles
Le petit Dauphin, whimpering in the night
And pearl and crystal shining bright,

Cadeaux from la peuple
Before France bathed in blood,
Glutted its arid fields on rich bone meal:
Blood spilled from la Princesse de Lamballe
Will feed a small town, at least –
Wheat milled from hair, curled,
Gray, thin matted bits through which
The blade opens a bleeding space,
Fleshy folds unfurled
And within it opens into a world

Cutting through regret
Erasing teenaged days of boredom
Later life’s labour pains, la tuberculose
And rumours running rounds at Versailles
All rising colour on the fair Queen’s cheek
Mais voilà! La République spoke right:
Madame la Guillotine fait son travail
Returns la veuve Capet posthaste
To Vienna, music, summer ripe
And a little lovely moony night.

September 24, 2009 Blueprint Web Administrator Prose No Comments

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