In the criminal's cabinet, Holmes discovers himself, Men of letters & Mr Hyde at home (The musical)
by Jason Camlot
[ poetry - april 02 ]
In the criminal's cabinet, Holmes discovers himself
Holmes entered the cabinet
of the respectable reverend
(who was in fact a closet naturalist)
and found so many Victorian things.
There were teapots
and rare fatal cannons,
coffins filled with roses,
and tinted canvases in frames.
Along one wall were hats on parade,
and fabrics apparently
from the time of Moses.
Behind one glass case could be seen
brass of superior quality,
and effigies of a more primitive culture.
artistic applications of electrotype,
snuffed tapers and chandeliers,
and beneath a glass table top,
instruments for the manipulation of teeth.
Holmes admired the Japanned goods.
He wondered at the strange colonial livestock,
and the new technology in underclothes.
Umbrellas opened and closed mechanically.
Then he found the full collection of thimbles.
These tiny monstrosities of lead
he screwed onto his fingertips
to help explore himself further
without fear of poisoned needles.
In 1826 John Stuart Mill suffered
his first mental crisis. He saw the aim of his desires
but he did not desire the aim of his desires.
He understood that he no longer felt.
Upon reading the Memoires of Marmontel
and a passage about the death of that author's father,
in particular) John Stuart wept consistently until
the early 1830s, when he first became a man
of letters. In a monthly repository he stored
ideas about the intuitive truth of some words.
His father had raised him as an experiment
in education, and had taught him the uselessness
of wild imagination. But John Stuart, with all
due respect, felt that words should be used
to tear through the lucid veil as well as
to teach what is pushpin.
Years later, long after his father was dead,
John Stuart suffered his second mental
crisis, which he passed over in silence. He posed
for a portrait showing the fragile head
with its many bumps, signs of wisdom,
or perhaps sadness. Another important Victorian
thinker, John Ruskin, did not speak for the last
twelve years of his life, although his collected
works fill many thousands of pages.
The knife-marks on the door
are not my own, they were there before.
I rent this Soho cabinet
with its primitive furnace and kitchenette.
I just want to be left alone
to my desires, to my own
habit of composing blasphemies
in the margins of my prophecies.
Let them - these dull phrenologists
and eager criminologists -
use their big words without apology.
I'll punch them right in their nosology,
and then retire here to drink tea,
and bite the lips off China cups from the last jubilee.
They seek me because I am obscure,
the unspeakable form behind the door.
They scar me with their nomenclature:
atavistic blackguard troll,
then run to their confessionals,
repenting for their little lusts.
My lusts are large, swollen and round,
my taste is delicate and sound.
I'm happy just to stay at home,
smarten my beard with a pocket comb,
to stoke the fire,
and draw the wires
through eye-hole screws,
to catch up on the week's reviews,
to hang my pictures, summer scenes
with grasses green, heavens serene.