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Michael Glover

 

Edward Gibbon on the shores of Lac Leman,
December 1791


The winter is severe, with few balls
And little but my own correspondence to attend to.
All is darkness and anarchy in these days,
And I, Edward Gibbon Esq.,
Author of six volumes in quarto,
Am inclined towards the dropsical.

Good Madeira, I say, is essential
To my health and reputation.
May your hogshead prove as good as the last!
May it not be intercepted by the rebels or the Austrians!
I am in need of it badly.

And what of that ci-devant Kingdom of France?
You ask. Well may you ask it.
There is so much to say that I shall say nothing.
Except that I shall say this:
The world is in a state of dissolution,
And the French ladies are well settled
By the shores of Lac Leman.
They are companionably charming…

Otherwise, I shall expect no less
Than three pipes at least,
Of excellent Madeira in cask,
Together with some dozens of Malmsey Madeira.
Consign it to Messrs. Romberg, Voituriers
At Ostend. Give me timely notice of its march.
Let me live and die by my Madeira

 

from For the Sheer Hell of Living, San Marco Press, 2008