The Emperor of Ice-Cream

The Emperor of Ice-Cream
by Wallace Stevens

Call the roller of big cigars, 
The muscular one, and bid him whip 
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds. 
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress 
As they are used to wear, and let the boys 
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers. 
Let be be finale of seem. 
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream*. 

Take from the dresser of deal, 
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet 
On which she embroidered fantails once 
And spread it so as to cover her face. 
If her horny feet protrude, they come 
To show how cold she is, and dumb. 
Let the lamp affix its beam. 
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

* The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. In the context of death, an echo of Hamlet’s comment to Claudius: ā€œYour worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots.ā€ (Hamlet, act 4, scene 3)

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