Last week found Sir Hudibras embarrassing himself in a palace of consumption. This week, although our protagonist and his affect remain the same, however, finds him in a dramatically different locale. Instead of the metropolitan bustle of the Castle Indigo, Sir Hudibras has found himself on a pilgrimage to none other than the Palace of Art.
Located at 201 upon a Fair Mount, this palace is a wonder to behold. Four courts it had, East, West and South and North, in each a squared lawn, where from the golden gorge of dragons spouted forth a flood of fountain-foam. And round the cool green courts there ran a row of cloisters, branch’d like mighty woods, echoing all night to that sonorous flow of spouted fountain-floods.
But contrary to the popular account given to the palace by Tennyson, the palace was more than a foursquare storehouse for objets d’art. Five sibyls, once in a blue moon, were known to descend upon the Palace, slipping through its ever-open door just ever so slightly past 7:00pm and, beneath its eaves, whispering the variegated poetic truths. Their insight and wisdom in matters of Aftfulness was rumored to be immense.
This insight was what Sir Hudibras was after. You see, our hero was never blessed with anything resembling an artistic soul. No, instead he had been given a spirit of tinfoil and soot. Although it had served him well, he had a large interior decoration project ahead of him, and hoped the sibyls might offer some guidance; he much preferred to be told in plain English what was gold and what was manure before hanging either on the wall, and he was certain the the sibyls of the Palace of Art would be the best candidates to make that distinction. Herein, dear reader, lies the seed of the latest in Sir Hudibras’ interminable series of weekly humiliations.
For as the first of the sibyls began to speak, he realized that her words were not the variegated poetic truths spoken in plain English at all, but rather the language of poetry itself. This first sibyl, her name was Drew McKevitt, spoke of eggs and incisions and the unutterable intrusions of toast. The second, one Ilona Martonfi, spoke in measured tones of rooms left empty for days. The third, Danielle LaFrance, whispered of womanhood. The fourth, Jeffrey Mackie, closed his eyes, opened his mouth, and spoke in the voice of Andy Warhol. And finally, Jesika Starnino, strummed upon a guitar and sang out a tale of bitten arms, of excessive spirits, and of an inarticulate man who was unfortunately–even tragically–hip.
As their rite drew to a close, Hudibras’ face drew a deep blush; though moving, the words had not been the secrets of Art; he was as much a philistine now as he had ever been. How embarrassing; he had come all this way and not heard a single decree, nor dictum, nor instruction. Nothing but the minutely timed release of metered words into the atmosphere. “What a wasted pilgrimage,” he thought, “now I will never know which of my spoils to hang upon the walls of my abode.” Yet even as this dull thought trundled across his mind, Sir Hudibras turned to see that, behind him, a crowd forty strong had gathered. They must have followed him along the twisted trails of his pilgrimage, but they certainly didn’t follow him along the doubtful path of his conclusions. Each of those metered words, it seemed, had fallen upon the shoulders of the gathered crowd and was, even then, continued to whisper delight into their ears.
And the moral of our story then, dear reader, is that even artless turds stumble into good venues now and again.