Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Stunned By Shakespeare

I look up to these famous poets,
their books wedged tightly
into shelves that tower above me,
and reach to pull one of them from the top,

it dislodges the others,
the bookcase rocks, books fall out,
slim volumes slide free,
the thin edges of paperbacks
by Gunn and McGough
rain glancing blows,
hardbacks by Auden and Eliot
land head-butts,
then come the thudding tomes
of Pope, Milton, Dryden,
and now - oh no! -
the six pound, three inch thick,
Arden Shakespeare Complete Works
bangs down 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 will always need gloves.

Why did you have to be so dome-headed
so beetle-browed, so prolific a writer?
I rub my bruised head and curse you,
William Shakespeare, whoever you were.

© Paul Archer - All Rights Reserved