Poem in honour of George Whitman who passed away within twenty-four hours after I called, in vain, to see him.He was the legendary owner of the Shakespeare & Co. in Paris. I knew him from 1976 onwards.
The Old Man and the Seine
For the legendary George Whitman
(1912 – December 13, 2011)
King George peered out of the oval of the hollow mile
And caught the Hunchback ogling Gina Lollobrigida;
Victor Hugo sat engrossed in his séance at Guernsey Isle
Feigning he would hold back the Cervantes Armada;
So witty Ol’ Walt sat on the lip of Notre Dame bridge
Scuffing overgrown grass with his heels in the Seine
But his beard got caught in Quijote’s wordy porridge:
That’s why they say he set up shop in Butcher’s Lane.
The Master of Ol’ Vic took exception to this affront
And shook his spear such that it stirred a tsunami
From the Thames down the Chunnel to the front
Of Tumbleweed Hotel’s Shakespeare & Company.
Now you know why King George kept his window shut
All through the century keeping no eye even half shut.
(c) T. Wignesan - Paris. From the collection: Poems Omega Plus, 2005; rev. 2012.