Poems of the Week

Farewell to the Dancing Marquess

by Julia Griffin

“A diamond tiara that once belonged to one of Britain’s most extravagant aristocrats
is up for sale on Saturday at a prestigious European art fair.
The Anglesey Tiara was at one time owned by Henry Cyril Paget—fifth Marquess of Anglesey.…
The fourth marquess left the 20-something Paget an estate worth £535,000—
equivalent to about £60m today. …

[He] became known as ‘The Dancing Marquess’ by the newspaper gossip sheets. …
[I]n the space of just over five years, [he] had blown the lot, been declared bankrupt,
and died from complications of tuberculosis in Monte Carlo.

He told a French journalist: ‘In six years, I have run through that fortune, just how—I could not tell you.’ …
He was just 29.”
—BBC News

He had a fleet of poodles;
His motors ran on scent;
Of jewels, he had oodles,
Draped over him like noodles.
Who knew how much he spent?

Not he. His self-aimed bounty
Might daily have financed
The budget of a county;
He let it mount and mount. He
Dropped diamonds as he danced.

Man spends, the bank disposes;
He crashed at twenty-nine,
And died (tuberculosis).
His kin came in with hoses,
Purell, and turpentine,

And set to work. Embittered?
They must have felt bereft;
They’d lost the wealth he’d frittered
On all that barked and glittered.
So no real trace is left;

But you who sense romance in
The shades of Anglesey
Might glimpse, if you should glance in,
The twinkle of a dance in
A marquessal marquee.