As superb as the Massif Central, the armoire
Stood in the middle of the room un-eroded,
Basalt de splendeur, regal ebonies ajar,
But the etagere sagged, and the desk rewrote it.
Tongues and grooves now chatter;
Mitres loosen, illusory;
Decorum is tattered;
Vows are dust, nails cursory.
And Louis Quinze, restored to the throne
In the form of a chair, stretches out his toes
To grasp the ball that the claw had enclosed
That has rolled out of reach; suddenly alone,
Unaided by one mortal attendant,
A tenon is bent, a mortise upended,
Joinery breaks, and all his sins are exposed.
NOTES for Students of English
This poem may refer to the famous Oops! Chair by American artist Jacob Cress. www.jakecress.com
Massif Central – A central plateau area in France.
de splendeur – French for “magnificent.”
Etagere – A set of open shelves.
Tongue and groove – In carpentry, a method of joining two boards by having the projecting rib on one board fit into the side groove of the other.
Mitre – In carpentry, a joint formed by two pieces of wood cut at an angle; in the church, a headdress worn by bishops and abbots.
Louis Quinze – Louis XV, King of France 1715-1774; his name is associated with a style of decorative art that was in vogue around 1730-1760.
Ball-and-Claw – A style of table and chair foot characteristic of American and English furniture in the mid-18th century.
Tenon – In carpentry, a projection on a piece of wood designed to fit into a rectangular hole (the mortise) in another piece of wood.
Mortise – A rectangular hole cut into a piece of wood to receive a projecting piece (the tenon) on another piece of wood.
Joinery – In woodworking, assembly of furniture, toys, and other items.