Friday, February 17, 2012

the Duel of Manet and Duranty by Bob Atkinson

the Duel of Manet and Duranty

(c)2012 Bob Atkinson

two friends were having coffee
on the Avenue de Clichy
was not the 23rd, a Wednesday
but the 24th of February

a Thursday when all who came
to see Manet talk of Art
felt the passion of those voices
when he and Duranty fought

laughed and joked, and said some things
they wished they had not said
in the end it got quite serious
when Manet slapped Duranty's head

then with each other louder still
each spoke some evil words
bantered back and forth with fire
at each other madly cursed

let us go back a bit
to the center of the stage
when this all began
what caused these fellow's rage

Manet had entered in the show
two paintings he had done
and Duranty told the folks in town
these works were but hum drum

Duranty as a critic of Art
in the art world quite well known
Manet was only an artist
who shoved his ideas home

was not a long drawn dissertation
Duranty had designed
just a few words of caution
on these works he thought not fine

he believed the truth was good
at least the truth he saw
so when Manet objected to
words with his pen drawn

the two friends got in a spat
on the Avenue de Clichy
at the Cafe' Guerbois
near the center of the city

the anger built in each of them
was not a pretty sight
Manet had objected to
what he thought not right

so when one friend struck the other
with hand across the head
was not something expected
was something one should dread

Duranty asked him
"Sir would you "apologize for that?"
to which Manet answered back
"Not even to my hat"

"Sir then I must ask you
to give me satisfaction
on the field of honor
that is what I'm asking"

two friends fought a bitter duel
with swords on the battlefield of honor
with seconds standing in to stop it
when one sliced the other's arm

next day two friends drank some beer
coffee not strong enough for them
kept friendship alive in spite of fights
spoke words of gentle caution

Baudelaire's take on all of this:

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