Nail Chiodo

Loud in War

Canto VII

The three Graces just spoken of had escorted Lud
Into that privileged world opens up to one
Who has been weaned on the nectar of Empire
And cardinal forms of Earthly love.
The princely pedestal evinced by Stendhal
To be the one prerequisite essential
To Beauty if it is to engage the heart1

Had thus, by God’s will, been assured him:
Our lover, with his twice-broken pump
And at least one crumpled ball,
Became choice prey for the Goddess at large.
A citizen of a city renowned
For making artists feel welcome2
Véra had seen Lud’s passing through town
As a good opportunity if ever there was one
To uphold tradition and let fall her gown.
Out of nowhere she’d come
At the risk of being despised,
Disrobed and laid down her pride
In exchange for a greater one.
Magical spectacles ground from the purest Olympian crystal
Are what I’ll now fashion, fair reader,
That you may see through the mask of the couple
And grasp the terms of their barter.
Aside from her ration of perturbing good looks,
Véra had but limited assets to boast of:
A possible language degree, a few books,
The sort of stuff went then into fodder.
Like most of the shrapnel from the great Baby Boom,
She had picked-up pell-mell her notions of order;
The primordial soup she’d dipped her tin spoon in
Had let off of wealth the rancid odour;
And observing its dregs now, in her own shallow dish,
She divined the true nature of love in the wish
Of Poverty to catch the imagination of Cunning3
Lud, for his part, now at last in the running,
Strutted about, the Weltgeist4 in his boxers.
He thought of Alexander, all of whose friends
Had also gone by that name5
, and of Caesar,
Who had sat down and wept when he reached Lud’s same age
Because he hadn’t yet shone like the former6
He thought of his own plans for the future,
Felt daring flow warm in the vein,
Decided he would ask Véra to follow him:
With such a classic Parisienne in his train,
Back from his Junior Year Abroad, at his Ivy League School,
He would be greeted as no ordinary fool…
Like a Degree from the Outside World summa cum laude,
She might even open doors for him in the Ivory Tower!
While her integrity intellectual would obligingly bring
A royal taste to the proof in the pudding.
Plainly, the man was “cooked”, as one says in the popular jargon:
Love’s culinary miracle had, once again, been accomplished.
I must give vent here to both a smile and a tear
Given what Junior’s year held in store, rather,
After Véra disappeared, all hope suddenly shattered,
And Reason itself only got off with a suture.
She had left him, ostensibly to go back to an old suitor,
Because Lud—so she explained—was too young and certain to tire
Of her before long. The free agent in love,
Who spares nothing and no one to attend to life’s vaster designs,
Yet again had called in and left his card on our door.
But something fundamental had nonetheless changed
In the Divine economy of the world: philosophers
Would be wise to assay some day the stone
Ludwig had discovered; for under the weight
Of his footsteps forlorn, the mica in sidewalks
Had become far more precious than gold.

  1. cf. Stendhal, De L’Amour (1822).

  2. cf. Ezra Pound, in regard to the City of Paris.

  3. cf. Plato, Symposium 203b.

  4. Ger. “World Spirit”.

  5. Alexander reassuringly told the members of Darius’s captive family, who had mistaken one of his friends for him, “All of my friends are Alexander.”.

  6. cf. Svetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, I, 7. Julius Caesar was in tears because he had yet to accomplish something memorable at an age when Alexander the Great had already conquered the world.

Canto VIII