THE GOOD & THE BARD

Thy name held in esteem by the speakers of the Queen’s tongue
Non-native speakers have also over the centuries of thee praises sung
But a curse upon colonial students art thou
If only you were to reflect how
The grief that your works upon us has bestowed

On a Midsummer’s Night we hath to learn thy passages by rote
And answer-eth Hamlet’s question in long notes
Thy plays have buttress-eth our limited vocabulary
Much as Stratford-upon-Avon & Verona, our geography
And Portia & Cleopatra, our definition of beauty
Kings Henry & Lear reigned over our literary studies
Like no local monarch hath ever done
Forsooth, it wasn’t a bit of fun

Romeo & Juliet’s love caused us Twelve sleepless Nights
Waking up in a cold sweat, full of fright
A Tempest caused in the minds of teenaged youth
Who really couldn’t give a shoot
Save for an outdated exam every Ides of March
To be given wearing full uniform, neatly ironed and starched
In which, in spite of a kindly teacher’s guiding,
Our report card would invariably bring bad tidings
And so for all the hard work we wrought
It all unfortunately came to naught

Lest thou think-eth I’m making Much Ado About Nothing
And like Shylock from thee thy fair share withholding
Dost thou know we had to perform-eth thine plays –
Having practiced hard over many a long day
Yet not quite fluent in Shakespearean English
And feeling more than a little sheepish
On a stage not quite the Globe Theatre
Facing 50 sniggering classmates, in morbid fear
Wearing robes and togas quite alien
Attempting to appear straight-faced, serious and solemn –
As part of the school curriculum

Et tu, Macbeth, thou art etched on our brains
Along with Banquo, Brutus, Desdemona and whatever else remains
Of that fellow Othello and The Taming of the Shrew
It certainly wasn’t As We Liked It, let me assure-th you
Know-est thou not that words like quoth and tarry
To the millenials don’t any meaning carry
All in all, All hath not Ended Well
And when I look back and upon thee and dwell
I can tell you, thou’s Love’s Labour was Lost upon us
We hated it, we learned it only because we doth must

And so your good has been interred with your bones,
Yet thy archaic language still live-th on and on
As do thy endless soliloquys
Yonder and far, ducats, dukes and duchies
In the textbooks of the former colonies
And since we don’t and won’t ever get the hang
Fie! We will curse you in our contemporary slang
But rest in peace, dear sire
‘Ere thou think thee will so easily disappear
Alack! For scores of years I don’t see that any nearer

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73 Comments

  1. This was deliciously clever. The Bard would be cracking up were he to find this. No greater compliment to him than the endless allusions you have made to his works in this absolutely delightful piece. Bravo!

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  2. Thou hast writ large upon the Bard and in quite telling words that doubtless floweth from thine own heart, and what shall I say, the least to thee, save that thou hast penned well, dear sir! God save the Queen, and may the Lord bless thee, as well!

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  3. Good Sir, thou hast outdone thyself – Brilliant! – rote or not, you learnt them well. 😂😂😂 I once taught quite a few of these plays and I would beg that you cast your sympathies on the teachers as well. No easy task in the colonies.😀

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      1. Oh I’m pulling your leg – I can see in all that you write that you must have had a great English teacher. Yes, I’ve switched careers a couple of times. Regardless of what I do, the teacher in me lives on. 😀

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this though I didn’t have to learn anything by heart because I only graduated high schooI,but I have loved Shakespeare always.I have to say I won’t dare to write in his style for I’m scared of making mistakes,anyways,this is amazing,I enjoyed very much…A very Happy New Year to you,all the best wishes,have fun.

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  5. ‘Tis in the exception where we find true beauty, not in some mundane stack of half-time poetry, but where the pen and ink have their souls bled upon the page. Like diamonds scoring into the glass windows of our translucent prisons.
    Sorry, I am strickened with some melancholy which forces me to take up my pen play with language. To speak with the tongues of ages gone to dust, yet living on not less in self but perhaps in character, that we might in some way learn.
    (Gets back in his box…)

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