Louis le Grand and Louis le Bien Aimé
Here, strolling on their bored adulterous way,
Scattered with scarlet heels the gravel, when
They bowed, hat raised, to less celestial men.
And, following after, came their women, plumed
With diamanté ostrich feathers, doomed
Later to linger in a marble house
Like miniatures that jewelled an old carouse;
Who glided with the swans; who curtsied to
The Queen, as though her Dames d’Honneur might do
Evil without remorse, who swept on to death.
Their scent was wafted on each torpid breath
From water-lilied water, as douce voice
Cried out to the imperious peacock, lest his choice
Fall elsewhere in this glazed and gilded run,
And all their pride and glory be undone.
Cold as the columns made of malachite;
Cold as the mirrors giving back the night
Which shadowed every step in that pavane;
Those kings continued, as the colours ran
Round them in flower-beds; then faltered, and
Watched as the courtiers sifted off like sand
In hour-glasses emptied of their time.
They saw the lace-edged prayers of cardinals climb
Like smoke expiring from a candle gone,
And in those shuddering whispers were alone
With God’s forgiveness and a hated throne.