No one really got the measure of you,
Not all your biographers, who erred
On one side or the other. And the film –
Predictably, one would think – deferred
To the image, meant to overwhelm
With landscape and legend. And the few
Slightly wiser lapped it up like the rest.
After all, the public pieces were there
In splendid scope, and true more or less.
And since a hero was intended, only fair
The treatment, even the slight excess.
The director certainly knew best.
But there was more to you than fancy
Dress, or driving flags and crescents
To some private Acre of your own –
That was a sort of crusade in essence
Anyway, whose seeds were sown
In Oxford probably, or your infancy
Cutting teeth on castles. Still, that came
To nought, save as happy windfall
For venal masters; in the event,
A foregone outcome you couldn’t stall.
Yet there was more to disillusionment
Than that drama in a three-hour frame,
Beyond the lens’s circumscription
Or the boards of books: what romance
Was it that so irrevocably soured –
Caught in that brief backward glance
But inadequately – what powered
Your effacement into almost fiction?