Within the murmurous expanse
Beneath the bas-relief-ringed dome
The taxidermied elephants
Reign over their eternal home:
With tiles for the grass-giving earth;
For sun-burnt destinations, walls.
Eight times a week, the monkey mirth
Of school groups echoes through the halls
While in and out the galleries
The docents’ high-toned rhapsodies
Contend with sounds of scuffling feet.
And once a month someone comes in
Brushes the dust from wrinkled skin
Sweeps cobwebs from the painted skies
And polishes the glittering eyes.
Image: Elephant in Rotunda by Don DeBold, published under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license. Yes, there is only one elephant under this rotunda. So lonely… Here is another view of the same elephant:
(Sketch showing the measurements of the elephant taken by Josef J. Fénykövi in 1955, which was used by the taxidermists to assist in the preparation of the mount. Image from Smithsonian Institution Archives (link). I am informed and believe that this image is in the public domain as a U.S. Government work. 17 U.S.C. § 105.)
Here are some more museum elephants, perhaps they are less lonely…