Poem By Guellen: Summary

Pages: 7 (1532 words) / Published: May 3rd, 2016
The play opens at the railway station of a small town named Guellen, which literally means "excrement". This ramshackle town is the very picture of poverty. It is autumn, and four men from the town are gathered near a painter, who is making a banner that reads: "Welcome Claire..."

The express trains pass noisily by, and the four men discuss the fact that even the commuter trains no longer stop in Guellen. The factory is dead, and the town lies in ruin. The town was once a place of extraordinary culture and artistry: Goethe once spent a night there, and Brahms composed a quartet within its borders. The painter chimes in to say that he was once a brilliant student at the Ecole des Beaux Art, and has now been reduced to sign-making. Another man
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Claire is 63; her hair is still flaming red, and she is ostentatiously dressed. The overall effect of her appearance is both graceful and grotesque. Apparently, Claire had pulled the emergency brake on the express train, casting everything into disarray. The townspeople are thrown into a frenzy, not being fully prepared for her arrival. Claire argues with the ticket master, who chastises her for having pulled the brake. She attempts to demonstrate the power of wealth by offering him a large sum of money, but he refuses her bribe.

Claire's husband (Husband VII) or "Moby", as she refers to him, appears. Alfred and Claire meet face-to-face for the first time in years, and are quick to exchange endearments. Alfred refers to Claire as his "little wildcat" or "sorceress", and she remembers that she had called him her "black panther" when they were young lovers. Claire, who has grown old and fat, shows off her prosthetic limb, received after a terrible car accident. Her husband's real name, she explains, is Pedro, but she calls him "Moby" because the moniker rhymes with "Boby", her
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She states that her gift is conditional, but before she can explain the condition, the crowd bursts into a euphoric roar. The Mayor asks Claire what the condition of her gift is, and she replies, "I'm buying myself justice" (226). The Mayor responds that "Justice can't be bought" (226), but Claire says that everything can be brought. She then brings Boby the Butler forward to prove her point. The Schoolmaster identifies Boby as Chief Justice Courtly: he was once the Lord Chief Justice of Guellen, and then assumed a position with the Kaffigen Court of Appeal. Twenty-five years ago, the Butler explains, Claire offered him an astounding sum of money to enter into her service, and he

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