Visitors to San Simeon

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Visitors to San Simeon



1. Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Charles will be flying in. I came by train
And car with all the other guests. Remote
As Hopewell, really, and such a strange display
Of privacy and ostentation. Mind
You, I can say compared to what. I met
The elder Morgan. At the age of eight,
Of course, which means my estimates were true.
J.P. and W.R. Initials hide
But label. Buying so much art no one
Can figure out your taste also conceals.
My mother would have come if she had known
That Mrs. Hearst would be in residence
For this as one might say non-Hollywood
Occasion. Pasadena's her excuse
To stay away. She's lecturing Cal Tech
On not admitting women. Need I say
She's staying with the local Huntingtons.
As Charles is. He is lecturing Cal Tech
On breeding scientists selectively.
I see his plane. There is no landing strip,
But he'll land anywhere. Among the zoo
Menagerie no doubt. East Africa
Is on his survey list. Perhaps with luck
I can again be pregnant and not go.
One hates to see the animals upset
By motors and the shadow. As if cave
Men flew and chased down mastodons. As soon
As we go home I have to plan a weekend
Party of our own. We've yet to have
A proper housewarming, although the thought
Of limousines across New Jersey's pinelands
Gives one pause. The roads up here put ours
To shame, but ours do keep the Press away.
I wonder… If you add to Next Day Hill
At its full complement of twenty nine
The house in Cuernavaca, and my staff,
Have we as many servants as the Hearsts?
How to invite Miss Davies? If she thought
That she could glimpse my husband she'd be hid
Among the zebras at this moment. Charles
Could deal with her. He'd simply break and run.


2. Sir Thomas Lipton

Extravagance by land, extravagance by sea:
The City on the Hill, the Ship of Jason we.

A golden fleece, a Holy Grail, a silver Cup…
They're all the same: one prize for which we ante up.

But only you have built a setting worthy. Scale
And treatment, towered opulence invite the sail.

All charities are folly; squander on your own.
How else outwit death duties? Have you ever known

Salvation Army kettles warm as samovars?
(Tea, notice I hint at.) The brushes and the tars

Of robber barony cling to us, but the news,
Widespread, that we love pleasure loosens up the screws.

However much the Daily Worker's view annoys,
It's hard to hate a man who frankly loves his toys.

And if I win the Cup I'll let you house it here.
I'll spite the yacht clubs. This is where I've found my peer.


3. Edith Wharton

No worse than Biltmore, and the art is better,
Though in such a setting genuine
Looks like a reproduction. Can there be
Left anywhere in Italy one cast
Or one Canova? Pauline Bonaparte
Beside a swimming pool is all too apt.
Could Berenson survive a visit here?
No. Too much envy of the fortunes spent.
Nor could have James survived. Too rich donnees
In too short time. Conceive The Golden Bowl
With, as we say, a cast of thousands. They
Might well improve it: trampled underfoot
It might at least resemble less Fool's Gold.
The true James here may be the pergola.
It wanders like his later sentences.
But California can turn a screw:
Miss Davies as Miss Jessell, Peter Quint
Instructing tennis? Curious the house
Has no grand staircase. Too evocative
Of chorus girls? Am I the thought to be
Victorian so strict that Mrs. Hearst
Had to be hurried in as chatelaine?
Come, Willie. Do you think I do not know
That Millicent was once a chorus girl
Herself? But you and I do understand
Each other. We know the only point
Of money is to spend it. Old New York
Confronts the Gold Rush. Appleton may quibble
Over royalties, but you will not.