Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Stunned By Shakespeare

I'd like to join this gang
Of poets, their books
Tower above me - beckoning...
As I pull one out
From the top shelf - the bookcase
Slim volumes slide free,
Their thin edges, glancing blows,
Karate chops
From Heaney, Gunn and Larkin,
Then the thudding tomes
Of Pope, Milton, Dryden,
And now, oh no, the
10 cms thick, 5 kgs weight
Of the Arden Collected Works
Bangs down

Into my brain, flooring me

I curse you, William.
Why didn't you quit the quill
After those youthful sonnets?
Enough, surely, for immortality.
Why didn't you go out to a dark tavern,
To a loose-hipped wench
Begging you to forget the pile
Of blank verse-less parchment
On your lonely desk?
Why didn't you listen to the voices
Telling you to go back to Stratford,
To Anne, to your family?
Why not be a glover like your father,
They would have said -
People always need gloves.

Why did you have to be so dome-headed
So bone-headed, so beetle-browed
About getting down to it?
I curse you, William,
As I rub my bruised head
And numbness floods through me,

I curse your fecundity!


© Paul Archer - All Rights Reserved