David Lewis Paget
The Art Of Samuel Fudge - Poem by David Lewis Paget
They'd grown together as boys, they say,
They'd shared each spat and spill,
But one lived down in a terrace house
The other, up on the hill,
Their toys were never the bat and ball
That others take to the heart,
They shared their crayons and water paints,
The love of their lives was art.
One had a gift for portraiture
The other a gift for scenes,
Samuel Fudge could paint a forest
You'd see in your darkest dreams.
Nathaniel Booth could capture a head
Where you saw each single hair,
They grew together in harmony
‘Til the night of the Artists Fair.
They each submitted a cherished work
In the sections, ‘Faces' and ‘Scenes',
The Judge was Margaret Hartley-Burke
Of the Hartley-Burkes of Rheims,
She gushed all over Nathaniel's head
Of a ‘Girl with Bonnet and Shawl',
While Fudge's ‘Valley of Constant Dread'
Just glowered down from the wall.
The Scenic ‘First' was a pastoral
By an Earl at Mountain Ash,
The Faces ‘First' was a close-run thing
But Nathaniel won the cash,
So Fudge had muttered ‘Noblesse-oblige',
As he took his painting home,
Back to the mean old terrace house
But he walked the streets alone.
Nathaniel went from strength to strength
It was rarely he was topped,
While Fudge hung works in the same old shows
But his paintings always flopped,
He muttered, ‘I have to win just one
Or my name's not Samuel Fudge! '
But each despair brought the darkness there,
It was said that he bore a grudge.
Nathaniel won the right to hang
In the Royal Academy,
He wowed them all with an over all
Of Horatio Willoughby,
The soldier sat erect on his horse
And glared from his gilded frame,
While down below was a plaque that showed
‘Nathaniel Booth, R.A.'
But all was grim in the terrace house,
For Samuel ceased to show,
He locked himself in the attic room
Where his discontent would grow,
He worked his will on a painting there
So dark that it almost bled,
And muttered, ‘Nathaniel Booth, R.A. -
You'll soon be better off dead! '
While up in the mansion on the hill
The artist sat in the gloom,
The shades were drawn from the early morn
To keep the light from the room,
‘I keep on getting these migraines, they
Sit right behind my eyes,
I can't even finish my painting…'
It was then that he realised!
One night, he travelled the meaner streets
And he looked for Samuel Fudge,
He beat on the door of the terrace house
But Samuel wouldn't budge,
He'd only open the window to
Look down on his friend that way,
‘I know what you're up to, Samuel, '
Said Nathaniel Booth, R.A.
‘Well, two can play at that same old game,
So stop, or it's all-out war! '
‘You've never given a helping hand,
Or even a thought, before! '
So Samuel slammed the window then
Went back to the task in hand,
Spreading his darkness through the glen
Of a scene in a nightmare land.
Nathaniel Booth went back to his art
And hurriedly drew a head,
The eyes were glaring, the nostrils flared
Remembering what was said.
A week's gone by and the rumours fly
As the police investigate,
For both the houses are empty now
Though the air is filled with hate.
For in the attic they found a scene
With the paint not even dry,
A forest, set in a shaded glen
With louring clouds in the sky,
A figure, holding a fiery brand
To keep the wolves at bay,
While snakes are slithering, tree to tree
At Nathaniel Booth, R.A.
And staring out from the mantelpiece
In the mansion on the hill,
A face contorted with madness, its
The hair bedraggled and tangled
Tied the portrait to the wall,
It's now in the National Gallery,
Beside ‘The Scene of the Fall.'
14 February 2013
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