Editor's Note: Please view the remarkable taxidermy art on which Ken Gosse's poem depends: click here. The image shown from the play Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand (France, 1897) only tells half of this clever poem's story. You can read the original poem from the play as well: click here.
Anura of the Bergeracs: An Ekphrastic Battle Scene
A death at the Maison Mantin—fought
Under glass; a strange Camelot.
I calmly lower bulgy eyes,
My legs well flexed and splayed,
No mantle is there in my size,
Yet well-proportioned blade;
The grace of butterflies displayed
Within the arm I trust;
Prepare yourself to be dismayed,
For at the end, I thrust.
You’d best have chosen not to rise,
Discovering torso flayed.
Your heart, pierced through or cut endwise,
Or thigh, so insufficient made?
Oh! How the song of stinging blade
Turns bravery to dust!
’twill be your midst where blade is laid
When, at the end, I thrust.
I search for rhyme; what will arise?
Your sallow flesh has grayed!
Let’s see, a rhyme … Your courage, prize!
No hit. Your sword, so very staid,
Has been allayed. A sad charade.
My repartee is just!
Now don your fearless masquerade,
For at the end, I thrust.
Hear, princely frog, my serenade
Which in the end leaves you nonplussed,
And feel the point of my crusade
As at its end, I thrust.
Author's Note: "Anura of the Bergeracs: An Ekphrastic Battle Scene” is a pastiche of a poem from Edmund Rostand’s 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Cyrano creates the poem while engaging the Comte de Valvert in swordplay and, as promised in each verse, skewers him on the final line. My poem was inspired by a photo in a National Geographic article of an intricate taxidermy scene of a swordfight between two frogs at the moment of victory—and defeat. Numerous photos by Jérôme Mondière display the incredibly ornate building and contents of Maison Mantin (House of Mantin) in France, reopened in 2010 after being closed for 100 years. Anura is a class of amphibians which includes frogs and toads.
Ken Gosse uses simple language, traditional metre, rhyme, whimsy, and humour in much his poetry. Initially published in The First Literary Review-East in November, 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, Home Planet News, and other publications. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, he and his wife have lived in Arizona over twenty years, always with a herd of catsand dogs underfoot.
The Ekphrastic Review
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