The Baritone

HE ascended the rostrum after the fashion of the Caesars:
His arm, a baton raised oblique,
Answering the salute of the thunder,
Imposed a silence on the Square.
For three hours
A wind-theme swept his laryngeal reeds,
Pounded on the diaphragm of a microphone,
Entered, veered, ran round a coil,
Emerged, to storm the passes of the ether,
Until, impinging on a hundred million ear-drums,
It grew into the fugue of Europe.

Nickel, copper, and steel rang their quotations to the skies,
And down through the diatonic scale
The mark hallooed the franc,
The franc bayed the lira,
With the three in full flight from the pound.
And while the diapasons were pulled
On the Marseillaise,
The Giovinezza
And the Deutschlandlied,
A perfect stretto was performed
As the Dead March boomed its way
Through God Save The King
And The Star-Spangled Banner.

Then the codetta of the clerics
(Chanting a ritual over the crosses of gold tossed into the
crucibles to back the billion credit)
Was answered by
The clang of the North Sea against the bows of the de-
stroyers,
The ripple of surf on the periscopes,
The grunt of the Mediterranean shouldering Gibraltar,
And the hum of the bombing squadrons in formation under
Orion.

-26-

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