An Address to Shakespeare
Immortal! William Shakespeare, there’s none can you excel,
You have drawn out your characters remarkably well,
Which is delightful for to see enacted upon the stage
For instance, the love-sick Romeo, or Othello, in a rage;
His writings are a treasure, which the world cannot repay,
He was the greatest poet of the past or of the present day
Also the greatest dramatist, and is worthy of the name,
I’m afraid the world shall never look upon his like again.
His tragedy of Hamlet is moral and sublime,
And for purity of language, nothing can be more fine
For instance, to hear the fair Ophelia making her moan,
At her father’s grave, sad and alone….
In his beautiful play, “As You Like It,” one passage is very fine,
Just for instance in fhe forest of Arden, the language is sublime,
Where Orlando speaks of his Rosilind, most lovely and divine,
And no other poet I am sure has written anything more fine;
His language is spoken in the Church and by the Advocate at the bar,
Here and there and everywhere throughout the world afar;
His writings abound with gospel truths, moral and sublime,
And I’m sure in my opinion they are surpassing fine;
In his beautiful tragedy of Othello, one passage is very fine,
Just for instance where Cassio looses his lieutenancy
… By drinking too much wine;
And in grief he exclaims, “Oh! that men should put an
Enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains.”
In his great tragedy of Richard the III, one passage is very fine
Where the Duchess of York invokes the aid of the Divine
For to protect her innocent babes from the murderer’s uplifted hand,
And smite him powerless, and save her babes, I’m sure ’tis really grand.
Immortal! Bard of Avon, your writings are divine,
And will live in the memories of your admirers until the end of time;
Your plays are read in family circles with wonder and delight,
While seated around the fireside on a cold winter’s night.
Whenever I feel doubt about my poetry, I turn either to a great poet for inspiration, or to William Topaz McGonagall. Schadenfreude soothes as well as Shakespeare, and this work, by the man often described as the world’s worst poet, has a particular bite as the incompetent bard of Dundee struggles to describe that other William.
One of my favourite sites on the web is a tribute site to the great McGonagall. It’s put together by Chris Hunt, and its full title is McGonagall Online — A Tribute to the great Poet and Tragedian of Dundee. Such a well-researched and professional memorial to this man who seems to have continued to believe in his poetry’s worth, despite ridicule wherever he travelled. I often find myself laughing, and I often find myself wincing, as I read both the poetry and biographical entries.
His unsuccessful journey to meet Queen Victoria is recorded in painful detail down to every meal at every farm in one of his autobiographical writings. His hatred of publicans and alcohol (you’ll note how he ‘subtly’ worked it into the Shakespeare tribute) adds another source of mirth, particularly as he often performed his readings in pubs. Was his persistence admirable, or evidence of his lack of ability to read the world, just as he was unable to write anything that scanned or rhymed with less clang than is made by a metal bridge collapsing?
Now, for other poems, all better than those of McGonagall:
Click on this scattered feather
That tells a tale of foul and windy Southern weather,
Such as might cause a sturdy bridge to suddenly fall,
Or an unfortunate boat to founder because of the treacherous squall.
It really is hard to write like that; he had a talent. I’m off to see a Bell Shakespeare production of Macbeth later this week. May this poem not intrude itself into my mind, with its limpingly pedestrian ‘for instances’ and endless ‘fines’, as the witches appear.
May 21, 2012
health foods, humous, saffron
is the mouth
are needle-mad dentists
Grey ghosts of planes
winding down to Gitmo
cigar smoke blows
cut down to flowerpots
gravity snags planets
hook bites deep
Manga and cartoon
smooth cheese and wasabi
Now, that’s value for you!
Why not click this feather and see if any other Tuesday poet has been playing Snow White?
May 14, 2012
Magic from the inside
I am stuck in the conjured darkness,
mere pipe-cleaner, fluffy punch-line.
A thousand sharp screams penetrate;
giggles like flick knives reach inside.
The kids are having a great time.
I wait. Wish for real transformation,
of this black to a field of satin green,
soft as the emerald handkerchief
he converts to clover with an extra ear.
But breathing is a trick in itself, I find,
here in the crushing long tube of night
before sudden birth into searing light.
Then staccato taps of two dozen hands
on a hopping, fat balloon who squeaks.
He pushes me into the cage and says
I tried guinea pigs but they bit.
Hats off, I say, to the pigs with teeth.
This poem was highly commended in the Gold Coast Writers’ Association Adults’ Poetry Competition, 2009, judged by Graham Nunn. (I like to send my poetry to sunny places, where it gets a tan and fake platinum blonde hair and a fluorescent bikini, before coming back to Canberra.) The topic was magic, and I thought of the unfortunate animals that perform at children’s birthday parties.
May 7, 2012
These greatest hits
unfurling themselves beige flags
four four drumming
and I download white noise
to erase familiar grate
So you’re out shopping, right? And out of each shop comes a different appalling noise, threatening to strangle you. You feel like running away and hiding. In the supermarket they have a pretend radio station broadcasting ads for the entire stock of that wondrous supermarket źbetween ultra-insipid whiter than beige music, scraping away at your ear-strings, subtle as an un-oiled trolley. The same over-enthusiastic voice extolling the wonders of detergent until you wonder if this is in fact hell, and the unseen she who is spruiking is in fact a cleaner, brighter Mephistopheles. Or proper commercial radio entertains you in the shop of your choosing, which in Canberra includes advertisements for brothels, sorry, Gentlemen’s Clubs… And you’re just trying to buy yourself some cosmetics…And you don’t want to be impaling yourself on thoughts of patriarchy, just finding exactly the right shade of lipstick.
And again and again it’s Flashdance or Elton John or Sheena Easton or chiselled Flame Trees, punctuated by McDonalds or Hungry Jacks or the local roof repair man who does his own ads (‘Call and ask for ME!’) and really shouldn’t. You try and tell yourself that it could be worse, that it could be Christmas with Rudolf and the long-horn gang, banging at your ears in American accents, but that’s only a theoretical worse; for the moment this is as bad as it gets. So you duck into the chemist (avoiding the vapid waft of Fleetwood Mac sprayed like a cheap perfume) and buy earplugs.
And when you get home you try and find white noise to download, but at least, at least, it occurs to you that with your iPod in, people won’t think you’re odd, even if you’re listening to nothing at all, not a single half-chewed byte, but just your own thoughts and the muffled beating of your calmer heart.
For poetic people with (hopefully) less rant, click on this feather: