Apr '15 23

Creative Cat. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

Today is William Shakespeare's birthday: he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, in 1564, so I thought I'd have a bit of fun. There is a school of thought that subscribes to the idea that playwright Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare, was in fact the author of the Shakespeare plays. (Academics distance themselves in horror from this idea.) In Ros Barber's fabulous prize-winning verse novel, The Marlowe Papers, Marlowe considers his past and faked death; a book definitely worth reading.

In today's poem I've mixed some plays by Shakespeare with one by Marlowe, included some Shakespeare references, invented some Elizabethan-sounding words and constructed a few good curses from here. Sincere and abject apologies to the experts. And if this poem sounds clichéd, it's because most clichés in fact originated from the Shakespeare back-catalogue.


i. am. will. any other name smell this sweet?

It will
all be well in the end, you said,
but what a tale I heard this winter's eve
while dreaming of midsummer nights:
penmanship from the grave!
We were but two gentlemen of proximate hamlets;
now marlovians make much ado about nothing.
There'll be a massacre in Paris
and Denmark ransacked
before this tempestuous plot takes hold.
What comedy of errors; mark my words:
this defamation shrew needs to be tamed.
I will
spear those who drag my bardic name
in the scurling gutter
mingling it with his scurvy moniker,
the pribbling, flap-mouthed ratsbane.
What a piece of work! Such vaulting ambition!
He may lead his merry wife a dance
around the globe
(and well she may like it) yet
I will not
yield my labours of love
to that saucy, pox-marked plague-sore.
I will go measure for measure
to claim my writes
and dance on the grave
of that yeasty, wart-necked varlot.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

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  1. Mike says:

    *Can't beat a good Shakespearian insult. Brilliant.

  2. Jen says:

    *Thanks, Mike. The Shakespearian insults seem to be so rich and musical, don't they!

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