The wisest fool in Christendom was old
and tired of such hypocrisy, the lies
that drove poor Timon out into the cold,
that led Macbeth his own life to despise.
No more the shadows of the candle’s flame,
the fawning children and the relative
obscurity, just thirty-seven plays
and sonnets to a form superlative,
plus handbills from all his old productions,
tributes sent from Marston, Lyle and Jonson,
that battered box of grease-paints (slightly damp)
inherited by will of William Kemp.
Yet all of these no joy to him could bring –
not least the commendation from the King.
Such were the reliques of a life now used,
a mind which out of chaos order weaved,
a heart whole dedicated to the Muse
(the fame he had aspired to, and achieved).
There, on the desk before him, his life’s work,
the last botched masterpiece, the folio
and quarto manuscripts (dead letterwork!
wisdom from the mouth of some Malvolio!).
All of this fugue and toil, this lucid heart,
this slow progress of thought and soul and Art,
this scorn, this vision that dissolved in rain,
this scroll on which he’d proudly scratched his name.
This to a man’s whole Life and Will attested –
yet did not even know that he existed.
"Homage to William Shakespeare" is published in "Welcome To My World, Selected Poems 1973-2013", The Argaman Press. Click here to purchase the book.
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