Monarch of the Best Room

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The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer, Scottish National Gallery

Sue Dymoke

Even if you only open the door a fraction,

send a slither of light and backroom fug

across wrapped glass and best china

you will catch his stern eye.

The Monarch of the Glen stares out

across Little Gran’s best room

from his prime position over a sideboard

beside chimney breast and unlit hearth.


The stag holds you in his gaze

while you try to remember

what must be fetched from

her shrouded place, rarely used

except when great aunts from Staines

call for special Sunday teas or

a sudden sadness shudders open

the front door, draws back heavy curtains

to let the mourners in.


Landseer’s Monarch seems at home

in his enforced double gloaming.

Not that there’s any glen grandeur here.

No antlered majesty roams through

these heather-free allotments, bracken-less ginnels

with their outside lavs, leftover Anderson shelters,

borders of frothy London Pride.

The only local fauna a squabble of geese

scolding dogs and blue budgies who flit

across backyard cages,

scrape on cuttlefish bone

chirruping in spite of it all.

from: What They Left Behind, Shoestring Press 2018

Sue Dymoke will be reading and talking with Alan Baker and Aly Stoneman about Poetry and Place, Five Leaves Bookshop, 30 April 6.30pm, Nottingham Poetry Festival.


  1. What a sensitive, moving poem. As always, your ability to recreate a visual image from your words is superb. I wish I could get to the reading.


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