There once lived a king,
Only for the love of garb,
Who drained all the coffers,
To be adorned by something new each hour.
He cared not about the people,
Nor the soldiers at war,
Nor royal events,
Among other kingdoms,
Which failed to set a bar.
What can be said
Of a people,
Whose king himself
Was vain to a fault?
A glutton, nay, a fop,
Spent hours locked
Into a wardrobe much bigger
Than the royal throne room:
A room in which now stood two men
Before the billowing robes
Of a monarch whose face was barely seen,
And lay their case-
The only way to appeal
To a man ruled by cloth-
That they would make the finest
Most exquisite, most elaborate, wear,
Most adored, and adorn him in it,
A fabric that none can see
Except for the bright, and the fit,
Just the ones who were worthy
Of the seat on which they everyday sit.
The emperor, salivates, and says,
“Had I such a suit,
I shall know
The bright from the dim,
The wise from the foolish.
This fabric, nay, the stuff of gods,
Truth teller, must be woven,
For I will be then a king,
Who had it all”-
So as proclaimed, these rogues
Were put to work on the robes.
Given two looms,
And placed in the palace rooms,
They were provided with the finest of silk
The purest of gold thread
The sharpest of needles,
Never seen among their ilk.
They worked day and night,
Pretending to create something of might,
On something shimmeringly light
As thin air.
All the while usurping, pocketing
All the fine thread,
Sharing laughs at the dead of the night
At the foolishness of men.
Men were sent from the court
To check on the status of the weave-
No, the king wouldn’t come himself, no,
He had that much trust,
That a man of his status
Could see the working looms.
So, he sent others,
A test to their intelligence,
And all the people waited with bated breath,
For someone to proclaim
That what they beheld
Was, really, nothing, ahead.
The grand vizier,
Squirmed and stalled,
And the impostors, ever courteous,
Invited him in for a closer look,
“Oh, look at the colours, the designs,
Will they suit the emperor’s fancy?”
Breaking a sweat,
Lying through his teeth, the wizened man said,
“Oh yes, indeed!”
He left with a long, parting look,
Looked and looked,
But could see nothing, so to save face,
He yells, hollers, to everyone who would hear,
That there is nothing more sheer
Than the one resting on the loom.
He spoke of the fabrics, and the designs,
The dyes and at lengths
Of the material.
With each visit from an imperial courtesan,
The knaves filled their knapsacks,
While the courtiers returned liars.
With each man
Spewing the cloth’s glory,
Each of the people claimed,
There were none as wise as he.
The emperor, further intrigued,
By hearing only praises, ears well fatigued,
Decided, on the word of two very honest men,
That the fabric would surpass everything he had ever beheld.
And on, he went to where the crafty impostors rested,
Crooned, “These splendid designs, these glorious colours,
Will soon become yours.”
He looked and looked, but could not see
Even a single thread passing the loom
And yet, exclaimed, “How wonderful,
Marvellous, stupendous, charming!”
And proceeded to empty his vocabulary
Describing something that didn’t exist.
Following his lead, his retinue echoed
Made sounds of affirmation and some of awe
For who would want to be a fool?
(in a world of fools)
The gentlemen presented the pretend weavers
With a riband, an order of knighthood,
Fitted to their button holes,
With the pretentious title of “Gentlemen Weavers”
The day before the emperor would wear the cloth,
They stayed up all night,
Pretended to cut and roll and thread
The stuff of gods
And with the first light of dawn, announced,
“The emperor’s new clothes are ready!”
They brought one article of clothing after another,
A pretentious show with nothing raised,
“Here are the trousers!
Here is the scarf!
Here is the mantle!
Here is the garb!”
To the backdrop of ooh’s and aah’s.
They made the emperor stand
And while they undressed him while he stood,
Looking at himself through the looking mirror,
Arranged and pleated the fabric, adjusted it to his tone.
Once done, the king turned this way and that
A whole round at that,
He examined his handsome suit.
“Do my new clothes fit well?”
“Yes, better than any royal garb!”
“All my people deserve to behold this lovely cloth!”
He marched through the streets,
With four men behind, holding up his trail
Men from all around the town agreed,
That none of his majesty’s other robes
Had ever made such an impression,
As much as these invisible ones.
A meek voice from the back,
One not prone to the ways of the world, said,
“But he wears nothing!”
Hands cupped his mouth, and he was dragged away,
While the whispers passed on.
Long poem but I hope worth going through.