Sir Richard Burton invites the apes to dine
after Walton Ford’s ‘The Sensorium’
It began a civilized affair. The table was laden
with mangos, with pomegranates and plums
and set on the veranda. Such guests
as we were not welcome inside.
A macaque savoured the cabernet,
though complained of a woody note.
and the common langoor refused to sit
at table; he knew his place.
His golden cousin, an orientalist,
was inclined to yawn; he tossed
holy men’s pornography to the ground. A tail
coiled around the chair leg, became a rope.
Ladies cried sacrilege when Burton
determined to learn every language of ape and man.
Simian dictionaries burned
and Babel crumbled, phoneme by phoneme.
The Rhesus boys fought with bared teeth.
Satsumas tumbled, I stared
to a horizon lined with eucalyptus
and watched syllables fall.
Beth Grimm grew up in South Yorkshire but has spent much of her adult life flitting around Central and Eastern Europe. She believes poetry, music and languages to be a single entity.