Edouard Manet, The Masked Ball at the Opera (c.1873), oil on canvas, 59.1 x 72.5 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. Image courtesy of Wikiart.org

Edouard Manet, The Masked Ball at the Opera (c.1873), oil on canvas, 59.1 x 72.5 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. Image courtesy of Wikiart.org

All the beautiful people, darling,
are at the opera house tonight.
They’re wearing their tasteful sparkles, darling.
At interval their drinks order’s laid out.

Atop the bar, an isle in the crowd,
a row of champagne bottles direct their corks:
To a man with an eye-patch who conducts
with a dress ring of diamanté.

At a prom pouffe black dress
brought to taste in a cinch, by a double C.
For the camp contrapposto at ease with a
whisper at the silver ice-bucket.

Mon cherie, you should have been here
on opening night when everyone…
He leant over into the gold drops
dingling and weighing from her ears.

All the beautiful people, darling,
are at the opera house tonight.
They’re wearing their tasteful sparkles, darling.
See at interval their drinks order’s laid out?

They’re terribly civilised at the opera, darling,
as beautiful people are.
Only beautiful people, darling,
populate this muse’s arena.

An elderly one strolls out on the terrace, wears a skullcap
to keep warm where one there was hair.

Inside champagne corks from the glittering bar
aim at the gossip and theatrical flares.
For in Covent Garden, darling, even the Christmas lights declare
All the beautiful people, darling, are this side of the square.


Last Thursday I attended a triple bill of contemporary ballet at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. This little verse unfolded as I indulged in some people watching during the two intervals.

Yes, there really was a man wearing an eye-patch waving his diamanté dress ring. In fact, at one point I thought there was more theatricality in the audience than on the stage.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
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Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

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