‘So all is false,’ the mad king said,
Plucking an orange made of glass,
Which shivered on the parquet floor
Into a thousand jagged lights.
Reality escaped him then,
As it had always done before,
Despite the greenness of the grass,
The blueness of the water there.
An island palace built by trolls,
Who laboured through his restless nights:
False French, but better made, it glowed -
The jewel which he had cast aside.
Signing his letters: ‘Yo, El Rey,’
This young deluded Wittelsbach
Perhaps acquired the scoffing way
With which a Spanish King dismissed
La Granja and its porcelain walls:
‘It cost three millions and it pleased
Me just three minutes.’ How they laughed,
The courtiers, pawning diamond clasps
To pay their Faro debts. For so
These sad-eyed rulers mock their age,
Which fades at dawn, as on a stage.
When all are dressed alike, both rich
And poor, and all are called the same,
Which of these ermine kings appears,
Despite his crown, more deeply false
Than mobs of youthful dreamers, decked
With rags, whose diamonds are their tears
Shed for themselves, who hate the past
Because they were not rulers then?
Mad Ludwig, riding through the night
With horsemen bearing torches, looks
Less fateful than these anarchs, ringed
With cameras focused on their furious eyes.
This plastic world in which we live
Amuses not one moment more
Than what it takes to laugh at it.
At Herrenchiemsee tourists throng,
And paid is every royal debt.
What young king builds its like today?