Characters & Caricaturas

What if the features splayed across my face
Did not do justice to my character?
‘They are all male’ and ‘They are all in wigs’
Tom Lubbock wrote, but they are not the same.
Each visage has a quirk, a mortal flaw,
A human element, a needle in the hay,
A miniature totem in a stack.
The artist thought he captured in a sketch
The essence of a personality.
A scold, a grim, a smirk; a sycophant;
A scoffing brow against a wheedling eye;
A look of kindness, one of mirth and joy:
Familiar faces, I have seen them all.
But can a portrait capture finally?
Can not a person wear a million smiles,
A thousand frowns, a hundred question marks?
Am I not Janus? Or a Lon Chaney?
A face belies the storm within, it hides
The chaos with the silence of the sea.

(Inspired by Tom Lubbock’s essay on William Hogarth’s “Characters and Caricaturas” (1743) in English Graphic. You can read a version of the essay at The Independent.)