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.