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This poem is taken from PN Review 78, Volume 17 Number 4, March - April 1991.

Beautiful Railways John Heath-Stubbs

To A.J. with the works of Ronald Firbank

'Firbank's father makes brass bedsteads.'
'He doesn't, he makes beautiful railways.'
A prancing caprice he was, a vainglory,
A flower beneath the foot, an artificial princess,
And most of all, I think, that tragic cardinal -
Yes, I said tragic -
As the net of scandal and disgrace
Slowly closed around him, collapsing as he pursued
A choirboy through the precincts, a rosary
Hiding that which was meet to be hidden.

The great wind of the twentieth century had blown
The fig-leaves off the loins of all the statues -
In Valmouth, a suburb of Sodom,
A province of fairy-land. 'The Catholic church
Wouldn't have me, and so
...


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