The Monarch's Mortal Miasma

(On reading of William Duffield (1816-63), an artist who lost his sense of smell and whose final illness was attributed to the putrefaction of  a stag he was painting in his studio.)

Commissioned by some arriviste
   Who'd done well out of railway stock,
They hoisted up the once proud beast
   To face the palette, brush and smock.

Though what there daily gained in size
    Might soon dim Landseer’s reputation,
The summer brought its heat and flies,
   With ice mere partial mitigation

 Could not keen eyes replace the nose,
    Or did Art blind, its flame perfervid,
 As from his bloated model rose
    That fatal odour, rotting cervid?

But no, when once the Fates decide
    Farewell to dreams, and Thames-ignition.
The deer first, then the painter, died,
    United in decomposition.

Jerome Betts

If you have any thoughts on this poem,
Jerome Betts would be pleased to hear them.