Henry Fuseli: ‘Titania and Bottom’
Out of your cold dream, Mr Fuseli,
Where reason slept and monsters were begotten,
Come iced flesh, these bluish night-sweats,
Catafalques of hair, teasings-out of ribbon:
Nymphs and lamias of the demi-monde
Whose tarnished features ghost this bedchamber.
Nel mezzo del cammin – the dark sheets ruck
Where the ground heaved, and a hidden moon
Plays limbo’s midwife, addling the narrow wits
Of Brother Ass, hunched on his coarse throne,
Feeling the brute stir in his cruel member:
A rustic Midas, flowering into godhead
And moving grandly to his jovial climax.
Light patches faces on a wall of leaves,
Flows down the pliant limbs, a branchwork
Whose draperies are less than a first snowfall,
The mere congealing of high-summer shadow.
A smile buries its thorn in that hot flesh
Which the bright dews will search and scarify
Upon the stained floor of a wood near nowhere:
Her crooked thread woven into his broadcloth.
Peter Scupham was born in Liverpool in 1933, educared at the Perse and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He lives in Hertfordshire where her runs, with John Mole, the Mandeville Press, a private press for the publication of new poetry. His recent book of poetry include The Air Show, 1988, Watching the Perseids, 1990, and Selected Poems 1972 – 1990, 1990, all with Oxford University Press.