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This poem is taken from PN Review 202, Volume 38 Number 2, November - December 2011.

Two Poems Anne Stevenson
The Master and his Cast
A tribute to Henry James


Passing first class on their luxury liner through the straits
Of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they lingered on deck
In dinner jackets and jewelled gowns, looking perhaps like advertisements
For expensive perfume, but playing for possession of the sunset.
Fortunes steamed over the sea to them, waiters in black raced between them
Bearing trays of iced syrup and soda-water, while at ease
In the narrows of their ways, he steered them through a channel of lawns
Green as billiard tables, shaded by porticos and elm trees -
Beauty at its cruellest most civilised at Matcham and Fawns.
Justice settled which girls would be turned into monsters,
Which would suffer victory to vindicate innocence. Yes, wealth
Does a great deal to worry goodness in those late magniloquent chapters,
More art than odyssey, more parable than myth;
But why should a gilded tour of betrayal not feature privilege and princes?
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