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THE COLOSSUS by Barry Tebb
(Goya, an old man in exile, looks at his self-portrait)

A bull’s neck, still much needed,

Deserving exile or the guillotine,

‘Because you are an artist we forgave you’,

Thus his royal highness gave thanks,

My fingers itching for brush and canvas,

Floury cheeks and rouge, legs a donkey would be ashamed of,

A wife who’s been to bed with everything in Madrid.

First I was ‘untalented’, then ‘mad and deaf’

Still I painted, my pain drew me on,

My kingdom had majas nude or veiled

Always with dark eyes like her

Whom I loved and they poisoned,

Duchess of Alba, dressed in silver grey,

A white pekinese at her feet with the world:

On the sand my name with hers

And ‘always’.

Old men easily grow afraid;

Spain and her blood are distant.

Alba dead I paint my ‘Milkmaid of Bordeaux’

In lingering silver-grey.
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