New Zealand’s quasi-official poet laureate Victor Billot composes an ode for David Seymour

For whom the bell jangles

Nothing but white. The white of deathly cold.

The howling wind is the only sound.

Apart from the ringing of a small bell

held by the Court Jester.

Lady Judith sits on an old box of pickled cod

by the ashes of a fire inside a very large tent.

Queen’s Landing is seven hundred leagues distant.

Over the Great Wall of the Polls,

beyond the icebergs of the Sea of Calumny,

across the spiked cactii of the Desert of Last Hopes.

An icicle falls from the tip of Lady Judith’s nose.

In the corner, the Jester tinkles his bell again.

Dr Reti! She cries peevishly.

Where is my blanket and hot water bottle?

There is no answer,

except the cruel, nightmarish wind.

An indistinct figure passes by the tent flaps,

tall and silent and with a round, ball like skull.

Is that you Baron Luxon?

the lady cries peevishly.

There is no answer,

except the horrible, endless wind.

A joke, fool! demands Lady Judith.

No reply. The Jester is shrouded in darkness.

His tiny bell chimes. The good lady glares.

Stop that infernal racket! she snaps.

There is no answer, no voice;

except for the merciless howling of the terrible wind

and Jester Seymour jangling his little bell.


Victor Billot has previously been moved to write odes for such New Zealand luminaries as Jacinda Ardern, Todd Muller, The Son of Key, Mike Hosking, and Garrick Tremain.

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