175 • Infesting Voltaire

175 • Infesting Voltaire

At the start of the soirée Voltaire
Had several large worms in his hair.
As the evening wore on
I observed that they’d gone,
Though I dread to imagine quite where.

Some readers will suppose that our narrator has been hallucinating: possibly the soirée itself, or the celebrated host’s writhing hairdo, or – most likely – the vanishing of a tonsorial infestation. But let’s not be guilty of underthinking a righteous parable, in which even the lowliest creatures – like rats, instinctively quitting a sinking ship – desert the living corpse of a shameless anti-Semite.

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