Before Meeting Frankenstein…

[…in the Underworld”]

”and standing there is Victor Frankenstein:
The scientist who’s mad imagination
And sober skill combined to dream, design,
Then bring to life a wild abomination.
Akin to things conflated with their signs,
The maker’s oft confused with his creation.
[Perhaps the error’s one we should excuse
Since Victor gave the beast no name to use.]

Alas! The work of some is like a tune
To which the future ages love to dance
[As graduates are apt to do in June
(Or May) to Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance”],
While their composers’ are forgotten soon
Like most on which the sun has cast its glance.
For most of time, they’re as anonymous
As any water-treading platypus.”

Although I knew it might result in friction,
I interrupted his unending spiel
To carp about a seeming contradiction:
“Your story’s rotten from its mast to keel.
A character, from a work of science fiction
Or other sort of novel, isn’t real.
What never walked the realms of Time and Space
Must surely not reside inside this place.”

“Existing hasn’t made you very wise,”
He stated and then, “After mourners’ moans
Have ceased to lacerate the weary skies,
One starts the process of becoming bones.
The hard reality of one who dies
Is that of buried dust and hidden stones.
Their kind of real’s the cold and lifeless real
Of any beast that’s been another’s meal.

What’s left—that heap of hard organic matter
Decaying under mounds of dumped-on earth—
Inspires but little bits of social chatter
In talks about a famous figure’s worth.
What lives of Carroll is that crazy Hatter
Who by the author’s mind was given birth.
What robs the name of “true” reality
From fictions that exude vitality?

Let’s take the case of Shelley’s horror tale.
Consider well these questions that I ask:
A costume vendor often makes a sale
When children buy a suit complete with mask
To ape her monster’s face in each detail.
If words from long ago inspire a task…”
Before he asked, I gave his eyes a stare
That let him know I didn’t really care.

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