The mastiff Velázquez immortalized
in Las meninas must have had a name,
which, sadly, seems to have been lost. Though prized
for strength of character, the poor dog’s fame
has been impaired. A playwright used “León,”
perhaps a compliment, perhaps a dart
at Spain’s reduced prestige. Rare wits will hone
themselves on any fixture for their art.
That court pet is a solid presence in
the picture, there’s no doubt of that. A sphinx,
He gazes toward the viewer’s left. We’ve been
there: ages past, with all their iron links.
The artist gazes at us, takings pains,
his dog surveying galleries full of chains.