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A Piece of Madeleine

Felix Dennis
January 20, 2004
Mandalay, Mustique
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For me, it takes the smell of wax,
  Of linseed oil, or pears,
To jerk awake the wretched clerk
 Who tallies files upstairs—

That idle fool who fails to find
  My spectacles or gloves,
Misplacing books and mixing up
  The names of long-lost loves.

I barely know which enemies
  Are welching on their bets,
And half the bloody paperwork
  He forges, or forgets.

The servant of my secret seals
  Has vandalised the trunk,
Its contents scattered to the winds,
  Their keeper, dead or drunk.

The best of what I was, and am,
  Lies ruined in the rain,
And few of us have time to dip
  A piece of madeleine.

‘And suddenly the memory came back to me. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on a Sunday morning at Combray... my aunt Léonie used to give me after dipping it first in her cup of tea or tisane.’ — Marcel Proust À la recherche du temps perdu. Du côté de chez Swann’ (1913).