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On the Finding of Richard III’s Bones: A Poem

The New York Times, 2/4/13:

Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on a project to identify the bones, told reporters that tests and research since the remains were discovered last September proved “beyond reasonable doubt” that the “individual exhumed” from a makeshift grave under the parking lot was “indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.”

Enter BUCKLEY, solus

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this corpse of Richard;
And all the clouds that lay dully upon our land
In the deep bosom of the news cycle buried.
Now are our CVs bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised trowels and shovels hung up for monuments;
Our dull symposia changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful departmental meetings to delightful orgies.
Grim-visaged death hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He lies peacefully in the University of Leicester
To the lascivious gapings of a muted press corps.
And I, that am but a simple archaeolgist,
Not made to court the desperate inquiries of a fevered public;
I, that am but a man, and want credit’s laurels
To strut before a mass of jealous associate professors;
He, that was curtail’d on the field of Bosworth,
Cheated of his young life by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this unbreathing dirt, spine so obviously twisted,
And I, so friendly and unassuming
That dogs rub against my pant leg as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of few discoveries,
Have no other delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy his wizened shadow in the ground
And descant on his own deformity:
And therefore, since I can finally prove an identity,
To entertain these fair well-spoken graduate students,
I am determined to prove a hero
And embrace the untrammeled triumph of these days.
Soil impactions have I studied, the Priory’s footprints measured,
By historical prophecies, rumours and dreams,
To set my brother Oxford and his sister Cambridge
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if Queen Catherine be as true and just
As I am wise, diligent and unassuming,
This day should Richard carefully be dug up,
About the prophecy, which says that ‘B’
Of Leakey’s heirs the finder shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
The BBC comes.



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