The small off-white cardboard
plaque says that you were
plagued with nervous tics,
a victim of melancholia, and
a bit of a gasbag.
That may be true.
But Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–92)
has made you appear
already in your Hades;
ashen, and clad in rags
already the colour of
the dust (of which you were formed
and to which you have long returned),
and all but abandoned for the
company of friends who gave you life;
and forgotten but for
the Dictionary that bears your name.
Certainly, you now hang alongside
a most uninteresting tribe,
and unaware, it seems, that
the adventurous and handsome Joseph Banks
hangs not 30 metres from you
in the next room, and that
the inspiring Charles Kingsley – and his fishing pole –
hangs on the wall in the room above.
– Jason Goroncy