Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Stunned By Shakespeare

I'd like to join this gang
of famous poets,
their book shelves
tower above me.
As I lever one out
from the top shelf
the bookcase rocks,
starts to topple,
slim volumes slide free,
the thin edges
of Gunn and Larkin
rain glancing blows,
karate kicks
from Auden and Eliot,
then the thudding tomes
of Pope, Milton, Dryden,
and now, oh no, the
10 cms thick, 5 kgs weight
of the Arden Shakespeare
Complete 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 rub my bruised head
and curse you William Shakespeare,
whoever you were.

© Paul Archer - All Rights Reserved