BYRON’S ALBANIAN COSTUME
Dressing up is hard to do
if we mean by this to become like others,
to belong to the background of the portrait
by having grown out of its mountain fastnesses
rather than having travelled in by air
for a fortnight’s break.
The fashion of the time,
which shows us a public school nabob clothed
in the robes of a Hindustani prince,
declares that the milords and gentlemen
of northern realms have opened the gates of Christendom
to a civilised Other, this rational prince
whose beliefs are allowed to be
of a different colour. That Greeks were noble once
is a commonplace of a Harrow morning
and to discover their virtues thriving
more convincingly in distant climates
than at the knees of King George
is a matter of observation,
even in the mountains of Albania.
So the costume declares
both respect for difference
and allegiance to unchanging principles:
these are men, by George!
Even if in this case the ensemble
is a pick and mix of sartorial elegance
designed to increase the stature,
slim down the tendency to plumpness
and hide that awkward foot.
There’s time enough for a portrait
of his lordship as a noble chieftain,
a contribution to his image in posterity,
and after death, while the statues stay fresh,
the fabled costume lies folded in a press,
only disturbed when a child insists
Let’s Dress Up.
|The Cave of Androutsos|
|No Place Like It|
|Byron's Albanian Costume|
|Visiting the Great Tree|