Near one corner of the British Museum’s
Great Court – the largest, roofed, public square
in Europe – the Lion reclines on a plinth.
It was stolen, a couple of years
after the Crimean War, from a ruined
tomb in Turkey. Its limestone body
had once been adorned with marble, its empty
eye sockets with glass to glint in sunlight
and glow in moonlight. Whether because
its pockmarked flanks seem sad or its eyeless face
appears benign visitors are keen to pose
for photos with the beast as backdrop.
I sit and watch. Three Buddhist monks, holding
their museum bags, snap each other.
Meanwhile, running deftly through the visitors,
my granddaughter returns delighted
from the many spoils of Ancient Egypt.
As natural light morphs into electric
the youngest monk comes back to take a selfie.
He turns and twists to angle his iPhone –
and immortalise the great blind head that now
looks both wise and simple.
British Museum Ancient EgyptBuddhistCrimean WariPhonethe Great CourtThe Lion of KnidosTurkey