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,
slim volumes slide free,
the thin edges of Gunn and Larkin
rain glancing blows,
head-butts come
from Auden and Eliot,
then the thudding tomes
of Pope, Milton, Dryden,
and now, oh no, the
10 centimetres thick,
5 kilograms weight of the 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 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