Lucrezia di Cosimo de' Medici (detail): Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo), c. 1555-1565 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence)
That's my last duchess up there on the wall, looking almost
As though she were alive, in a manner of speaking
One might well be hesitant to use
Were one indeed the guilty Duke, as happily one isn't,
One has problems enough already without
The dastardly ducal conduct of Alfonso II d'Este
Being chalked up to one's record. When one thinks of it, wedding
A thirteen year old girl who is your clear social inferior
Strictly to get hold of her whopping dowry,
And then two years later disposing of her
By poisoning -- well, the whole story
Is just about too awful to be true. You'd suspect Robert Browning
Of having made it up, but you know the Nineteenth Century.
Nothing connected with sex and authors is too strange to believe.
There was John Ruskin, who never knew until his wedding night
That women had pubic hair. And it really put him off the entire proposition.
Lucrezia di Cosimo de' Medici: Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo), c. 1555-1565 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence)
John Ruskin: James Northcote, before 1831 (National Portrait Gallery)
Robert Browning After Death: photographer unknown, 1889, from Black & White, 12 December 1891 (?) (Berg Collection, New York Public Library Digital Gallery)